Deeply informed by the author’s experiences as a journalist but triumphantly transmuted into intelligent and heartfelt...



Taking the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris as her first novel’s starting point, veteran foreign correspondent Steavenson (Circling the Square: Stories from the Egyptian Revolution, 2015, etc.) plunges her characters into the complexities of the post–9/11 world.

Like her creator, Kit is a Western journalist who has covered international messes from Baghdad and Beirut to a Greek port overwhelmed by refugees. She marries and then divorces Ahmed, an Iraqi who leaves her with his son from a previous marriage. She also acquires an ambivalent relationship to Islam, to which she converted despite the fact that her husband was an avowed atheist. Although Kit writes an article presenting the point of view of an Islamic fundamentalist, with whom she develops a tentative friendship, terrorist abductions of journalists and militant protests against cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad turn her into a ranting critic of Islam as the enemy of Western tolerance and diversity. It’s hard to discern what the author thinks of Kit’s attitude, since the book is written in the first person; Steavenson may be agreeing with her character or portraying her as bigoted—or a bit of both—when Kit storms, “Muslims who were born and grew up in Europe are now violently rejecting its values, while at the same time their fellow Muslims are appealing to those values to let them in.” Steavenson masterfully evokes Kit’s natural habitat: a rootless, cosmopolitan, polyglot world peopled by footloose, cynical, yet covertly committed journalists and diplomats. Among the vividly rendered secondary characters are her childhood friend Zorro, a substance-abusing photojournalist; Rousse, a painter/illustrator for Charlie Hebdo; and her “godfathers” Alexandre and Jean, friends of her journalist father whose long-ago disappearance haunts her. The coordinated attacks of November 2015 form the novel’s climax, with Kit on the scene at the Bataclan theater and her terrified adopted son frantically texting her, “Where are you?” “If you have gone to journalist [I'll] never speak to you again.” Kit’s turbulent relationship with her son, “two mongrel outcasts brought together by fate,” is one of the finest things in this very fine novel.

Deeply informed by the author’s experiences as a journalist but triumphantly transmuted into intelligent and heartfelt fiction.

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-60978-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


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

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