by Thomas William Simpson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 1, 1998
Wickedly hilarious celebration of a typical, if slightly despicable, American family's blithe destruction at the hands of a satanic computer genius posing as the caretaker of a vast East Hampton estate. This time out, Simpson (The Fingerprints of Armless Mike, 1996, etc.) applies his Fay Weldonlike obsessions with modern evil to the particulars of the American have-it-all dream. The Hendersons, a good-looking clan of suburban strivers, are suddenly handed everything they could desire. Recruited as a one-man sales force for a heavily capitalized marketing firm, Gunn Henderson, a handsome, athletic, gun-collecting smoothie who can sell only to people he hates, takes his handsome wife Samantha, their sweetly innocent eight-year-old daughter and their obnoxiously rebellious teenager son to live in an enormous mansion at the far eastern edge of Long Island. The mansion, and its quirky staff, as well as a $250,000 salary, golf-club memberships, a limousine, and paid tuitions at private schools, are perks for Gunn, who hits the road to sell a ridiculous fad toy to five-and-dimes, leaving Samantha with nothing much to do but watch Brady, the estate's handsome, blue-eyed, oh-so-sensitive caretaker, swim nude in the pool. As Samantha is drawn to Brady (who is also our satanic computer genius), Gunn indulges himself on the road, falling in lust, then love, with his silicone-enhanced ``business associate'' Nita Garrett. Garrett, along with just about everyone else in this cynical tale, is part of Brady's elaborate, hi-tech revenge on teenager Gunn's father. Simple revenge, however, is not enough. Brady is also adapting his plot as a new computer game with the Hendersons as characters. Alas, though, the same flaws that make the family so gleefully corruptible must, in the end, bring Brady down, but not before Simpson can show how generous helpings of passion, sex, and luxury make fools of so many of us mortals. Trashy, nasty, and fun.
Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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