Just try to put this one down.

THE KILL CLUB

In Heard’s sophomore thriller (Hunting Annabelle, 2018), a desperate woman at the end of her rope is drawn into an intriguing, but deadly, scheme.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jasmine “Jazz” Benavides has had enough of her ex–foster mother, Carol. Jazz moved out a while back and barely makes ends meet stocking supermarket shelves in between gigs with her band. Her 13-year-old brother, Joaquin Coleman, still lives with the uber-religious and physically abusive Carol, who is actually his adoptive mother. That and Jazz’s criminal record are the reasons that Jazz has been unsuccessful in getting the diabetic Joaquin away from a woman who speaks in tongues and denies him his insulin because she believes God will heal him. When Jazz must literally break into Carol’s house to deliver his medicine, things come to a head, and Carol beats Jazz with a baseball bat. A solution to the Carol problem comes in the form of a phone call from a blocked number. The mysterious caller will make Carol go away for good, but Jazz will have to kill someone else in return. Like pay it forward but with a syringe loaded with deadly poison. The caller explains that the overarching mission is to bring justice to those who were robbed of it by a broken system. With Joaquin’s life on the line, Jazz doesn’t hesitate for long, but when she fails to take down her target, all hell breaks loose. The LAPD is frantically investigating the deaths they’ve dubbed the Blackbird killings, and Jazz is running out of time. The scrappy Jazz can kick ass with the best of them, but the Blackbird killer, who pulls all the strings, seems to have eyes and ears everywhere, and to complicate things, Jazz is falling for Sofia Russo, the sultry assistant principal of Joaquin’s school, who’s dealing with her own problems. Heard expertly blends nearly nonstop thrills and some genuinely surprising twists with spot-on social commentary that makes an impact without getting preachy.

Just try to put this one down.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0903-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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
  • 45

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?

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

Did you like this book?

more