An entertaining tale that provides a wide variety of troubles for its protagonist.

FLAMES

A NOVEL

After saving family members from hit men, a writer and motorcyclist finds himself on the run and wanted for murder in Littrell’s (Lone Wolfs Run, 2014, etc.) thriller.

Sam Forest, who writes travel stories for a biker magazine, is devastated by the news that his younger brother, Dave, has suffered a fatal heart attack. Sam stays with his cousin, Sue, in North Carolina while making funeral arrangements. Later, he’s horrified when the funeral home botches the cremation. When he returns to Sue’s house, he finds that two gunmen are threatening her and her husband; fortunately, he has a Glock and gets the drop on the intruders and kills them. It appears that the assassins were looking for him, although he doesn’t know why. Later, the funeral home becomes the site of arson and murder, and Sam becomes the police’s primary suspect. He manages to evade authorities, helped by a fellow biker named Boudin, whom he recently befriended. Sam may be able to prove his innocence with help from his pal and his biker family, as well as from Detective Vick Summers, the only cop in town who doesn’t think that he’s a vicious killer. But he and those close to him, including a new love interest, Betsy, soon find themselves targeted by an outlaw motorcycle club and pitiless smugglers. Littrell’s novel maintains a consistent pace, due to a slew of villains who keep Sam on the run, including corrupt law enforcement officers; the rogues’ gallery’s highlights include an enigmatic figure named Mr. B and an evil motorcycle gang leader named Slash. The latter’s unmitigated cruelty while torturing one victim establishes him as the main antagonist, and he has a significant part in the action-packed final act. The author is at his best, however, when describing scenes of bikers riding, such as Sam in the Appalachian Mountains: “The trees growing on the steep mountain slopes around him cast deep shadows as they filtered out the remaining light from the sky above.” The ending leaves open the possibility for a sequel, although the book reads well as a stand-alone.

An entertaining tale that provides a wide variety of troubles for its protagonist.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4582-2156-8

Page Count: 378

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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

Did you like this book?

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

more