This thriller’s full-throttle pace leaves minor plot points and characters in the dust, but most readers will enjoy the ride...

THE LONE WOLF MURDERS

A MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE

In Littrell’s debut thriller, a biker witnesses a murder and flees, but he must contend with two killers who leave more bodies in their wakes as they search for him.

John “Wolf” Trotter ends a late-night ride on his bike by witnessing a man and a woman killing another man. He narrowly avoids a gunshot and later learns that the dead guy is the now-missing mayor of Whiteville, Ala. Wolf’s not sure he’d recognize the killers, and the killers, 45 and Blondie, didn’t get a clear look at him. So the killers start offing bikers with a specific model—a Vulcan Nomad—and realize that Wolf, outspoken against the mayor’s noise ordinance, would make a perfect patsy when the mayor’s body is discovered (though they still don’t know Wolf witnessed one of their previous murders). In Littrell’s first-rate thriller, the two villains are an ever-present threat, particularly Blondie, whose chameleonic changes—from wearing wigs to switching genders—prevent Wolf from positively identifying her even when they speak to one another at a bar. Wolf can be an uneven character, though, with an apparent distaste for nonriders sometimes nullified by his own life or behavior: He dismisses a “middle-class neighborhood”—the same one in which he resides—and shows contempt for a careless driver on a cellphone, even though Wolf often drinks or smokes weed before hopping onto his bike. But Littrell constructs a world of bikers whose mutual trust makes them almost a family: Wolf is wary of all cops except the one who’s also his biker friend, Lute; a sympathetic mayor and former biker (different from the aforementioned mayor) helps Wolf’s pal, Mark; and two DEA agents, whom Wolf encounters while fearing that the FBI wants to question him, are trustworthy because they “love to ride.” Readers may long for a stronger love interest, however, since the only one of significance is Wolf’s wife, Sue; Wolf often seems more content with a ready, hot meal than with Sue’s companionship. Blondie, on the other hand, is an extraordinary character with a back story so titillating it could be its own novel. The ending doesn’t quite tie up details of the murder, though it leaves a clear opening for another Wolf adventure.

This thriller’s full-throttle pace leaves minor plot points and characters in the dust, but most readers will enjoy the ride nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1458208279

Page Count: 204

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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
  • 13

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?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more