Real-life experience translated into page-turning fiction.


New hell has been visited upon war-torn Afghanistan in Young’s (Silent Enemy, 2011, etc.) latest action adventure tale.

A devastating earthquake has struck. Villages are left in rubble. Thousands are homeless, exposed and in need of rescue or relief. Into the breach goes U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Parson, a decorated combat veteran now working as a liaison with the Afghan Air Force. Parson is an experienced navigator and airlift pilot, but even though he isn’t a “rotorhead,” Parson is working with Capt. Rashid and his crew flying a Soviet-built Mi-17 helicopter. In assisting in organizing and administrating effective Afghan flying units, Parson has requested the help of a colleague from another combat service, Army Sgt. Maj. Sophia Gold, a skilled translator of the Pashto language. The two are soon tossed into a chaotic situation. A Taliban splinter group, the Black Crescent led by Bakht Sahar, known as Chaaku (knife in Pashto), is killing aid workers, disrupting delivery of supplies and, worst of all, taking children hostage to be used as suicide bombers. Young writes solidly about the complex dynamics of Afghan-American interaction. He also explores social differences by having Gold become a vital link in the attempt to wheedle information from one of the wives of Mullah Durrani, veteran of the mujahedin and the Taliban, grown too old to fight. In fact, Gold arranges a clandestine meeting and goes on a rogue mission to see Durrani. From there, she develops information that leads to the discovery of Chaaku’s fortress redoubt. Young is an Iraqi-Afghan war veteran, and he treats Afghan allies with due respect, acknowledges difficulties in bridging the gap between cultures and crafts a bad guy worth shooting. His grasp of military terminology, esoteric paraphernalia and ethos are spot-on, but don’t expect a ratcheted-up, loss-of-city narrative standard in a Tom Clancy or Dan Brown thriller. The slam-bang, good-guys-win conclusion comes with a well-described battle at Kuh-e Qara Batar, Chaaku’s mountain lair.

Real-life experience translated into page-turning fiction.

Pub Date: July 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15846-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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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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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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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