An unusually thoughtful action-adventure tale, sometimes sabotaged by an excess of ambition.



A medical thriller details a surgeon’s humanitarian mission in eastern Turkey, a region ravaged by sectarian strife and terrorism. 

A catastrophic earthquake strikes eastern Turkey, killing thousands and maiming more. Dr. Nicklaus “Nick” Hart, an orthopedic surgeon in Memphis, takes a leave of absence from work to travel there and lend his expert assistance, joined by Ali Hassan, a young surgeon-in-training under his tutelage. Ali is originally from the city of Van, the central site of the disaster. When Nick arrives, he’s confronted by grim conditions: inadequate supplies, disfigured children, and a queue of amputations to perform. Ali is determined to track down his aging parents amid the chaos, and Nick reaches out to old friends Maggie and Buck for assistance, characters reprised from Browne’s (Maya Hope, 2017) first book in his Nicklaus Hart series. Meanwhile, two agents of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Antasha Katrina and Vladimir, are sent to Turkey to find the biblical Tree of Life, reputed to promise extraordinary longevity, if not immortality, a mission personally assigned by President Vladimir Putin. In addition, an Islamic State terrorist band plans to exploit the turmoil of the calamity, infiltrating the area by posing as humanitarian aid workers while sneaking in explosives. Repeating a central theme of the first installment of the series, Nick wrestles with doubt regarding his life’s purpose, especially his Christian faith, a struggle that brings him to the brink of despair. His religious turmoil is set against the backdrop of the age-old antagonism between Shia and Sunni Muslims on ancient Mesopotamian grounds; the author deftly uses characters like Ali, a Kurdish Shia Muslim, and Antasha, a lapsed Jew, to illustrate the region’s immemorial rivalries. Browne has crafted a historically astute and dramatically exciting novel that offers both theological insights and a surfeit of action. He admirably avoids the pitfalls of facile caricature, and seeks an empathetic comprehension of even the least attractive characters, resulting in an impressive moral study. But, as in its predecessor, there is simply too much crammed into one book, with plot overkill that leads to a bloated length. In addition, the story’s message of Christian hope is at times heavy-handedly proselytizing. 

An unusually thoughtful action-adventure tale, sometimes sabotaged by an excess of ambition. 

Pub Date: April 30, 2018


Page Count: 491

Publisher: Agape Orthopaedics, Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


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

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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