An engaging tale that depicts the atrocities of slavery and the redemptive power of love.

WALKER'S WAY

A debut novel follows the struggles of a slave who finds his way to freedom and becomes a celebrated bounty hunter.

Readers meet Joe Walker when he is 38 years old and in Nebraska tracking down Jim Slocum, a vicious murderer. Unfortunately, Slocum is a full day ahead of Joe, who discovers the bodies of three more victims. The butchery causes Joe to reflect on his earlier years. Born on a Benton, Tennessee, plantation, Joe is the second of his parents’ four children. His family is close-knit and loving. But everything changes in 1856, when 10-year-old Joe is sold to Jackson Budreau, a brutal plantation owner in Louisiana. There, he meets Jacob Budreau, Jackson’s biracial son, a cruel bully whose special enmity toward the young boy will come back to haunt Joe years later. During his years on the Budreau plantation, Joe gradually develops a deep well of anger. In 1862, the Civil War is taking its toll on the Budreau fortune, and Joe is once again sold. This time, he escapes and joins the Union Army as a member of the “Fifth Colored Cavalry.” Although he originally sees this as an opportunity to exact revenge, the carnage of war teaches him that he just wants peace. Ahead lie love, loss, and a risky determination to confront the violence in his past. While Greer’s prose lacks lyrical embellishments, he provides enough action and conflict to keep the pages turning. And Joe is a lot more than a fast gun. The author imbues this soulful loner with depth, sensitivity, and spirituality. Some of the addictive novel’s most poignant moments involve Joe’s special connection to his various horses, including one named Buck, each of whom becomes his most constant and loyal companion. In the Army, “when nightmares robbed Joe of sleep, he would leave his bunk and go to Buck’s stall where he would lay down literally at the animal’s feet. With Buck standing guard, he would often find the rest that had eluded him.”

An engaging tale that depicts the atrocities of slavery and the redemptive power of love.

Pub Date: July 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73473-460-7

Page Count: 382

Publisher: Tidewalker Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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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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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

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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