A smashing finale to an engaging, boldly written series about family ties.



From the Franco series , Vol. 3

In this final volume of a trilogy, a New Jersey mixed martial artist preps for his final fight while his son aims for distinction with his second rap album.

Now in his mid-40s, Tonio Franco will be stepping into the MMA cage one last time. His opponent is the current bantam and featherweight champ, Lenny “Linc” Carrera—his nickname is short for “Lightning in a Cage.” Franco travels cross-country with his friend/trainer Joey, as the match is set in Los Angeles. Along the way is a stop in Las Vegas, near the residence of Randall Starks, the pedophile who years ago assaulted Franco’s then-teenage son, TJ. Now that Randall is out of jail after serving little—perhaps not enough—time, Franco plans to confront him with a Glock. TJ, meanwhile, is a 26-year-old rapper with a moderately successful debut album. The studio isn’t giving him much artistic freedom for his follow-up and pressures him into singing producer-approved lyrics. These include racial slurs for shock value. But TJ, whose orphan father’s origins are unknown, is “more Bieber than black.” As Franco struggles with both the 155-pound weight requirement and his moral predicament concerning Randall, TJ fights to record songs steeped in art rather than commercialism. Sheridan once again skillfully showcases his “lyrical prose,” in which narrative descriptions occasionally boast vibrant rhymes and/or wordplay. Franco, for example, had “an angry young man past where he was more goodfella than good fella.” But the poetic story also involves thoroughly absorbing characters. Enhancing the protagonists’ main objectives are smaller dilemmas: TJ and Linc are pals; Franco finds himself attracted to Joey’s assistant coach, Khloei, while the competitor’s wife, Julie, is back home in New Jersey. Notwithstanding the serious drama, this bracing tale has a superb, consistent sense of humor, particularly in the footnotes that are more wisecracking than informational.

A smashing finale to an engaging, boldly written series about family ties. (author bio)

Pub Date: June 18, 2020


Page Count: 164

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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

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  • 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

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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A smart summer escape.


Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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