No real thematic punch but a fast, furious, and genuinely fun read.

RED DUST

The latest novel by acclaimed Cuban writer Yoss is a quirky blend of science fiction and hard-boiled mystery that follows a robotic police officer as he attempts to catch an infamous criminal—and save humankind in the process.

A thinly veiled homage to Raymond Chandler, the novel’s main character is a humanoid robot named Raymond, after his favorite writer, whose main character he emulates by wearing a trench coat and broad-brimmed hat. A police officer working on the William S. Burroughs trading station—which orbits around Titan and is the only station in the solar system where humans can make intergalactic deals with aliens—Raymond finds his mundane existence turned upside down when a wanted alien escapes his bounty-hunter captors while on the station. The criminal, Makrow 34, has unparalleled psionic powers and kills another alien while fleeing. Raymond’s bosses—the Galactic Trade Confederation—want the potentially volatile situation resolved as quickly as possible and tell the positronic police officer to apprehend Makrow 34 before he leaves the system. After asking himself “What Philip Marlowe would do,” Raymond enlists the help of a human with similar psionic abilities who's currently imprisoned on the station, and together the unlikely duo set out on a highly dangerous escapade. The trench coat–wearing robotic detective makes for an appealing and at times comedic protagonist, and Yoss’ clear and focused writing style keeps the reader turning pages throughout. But while the worldbuilding is exceptional in some parts (an independently owned space station held together by superglue and staples, for example), the characters never rise above two-dimensionality. The narrative, however, is action-packed—literally jumping from one adventure to another—and the conclusion’s highly satisfying.

No real thematic punch but a fast, furious, and genuinely fun read.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63206-246-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Stone’s least indulgent adventure in years. Never say never!

FOUL PLAY

A new client spells nothing but trouble for Stone Barrington and himself.

Now that he’s sold his family business for $250 million, Shepherd Troutman has come to New York to spread his wings. And it’s hard to imagine any person in fiction or real life better able to help him spend gobs of money than Stone. Before he can start signing those checks for the Bentley and the suite at the Carlyle Hotel, though, Shep has to get rescued from outside Stone’s Turtle Bay home, where a masked thug has beaten him senseless, and from any suspicion of having strangled the nameless call girl who turns up in his suite at the Carlyle—an episode that makes him think twice about that particular purchase. As the attacks continue, it becomes clear that someone has it in for Shep, and the someone, under the fig-leaf disguise of a Delaware corporation, is Russian mobster Gregor Kronk. There’s no negotiating with Kronk, Stone’s security advisers tell him after he’s spirited Shep and Roderick Troutman, the father who faked his own death in order to avoid involvement, out of New York; the only sane strategy is to give him what he wants, a series of patents worth another $250 million. Naturally, this perfectly reasonable advice grates on Stone, and the battle between good and evil is on once again, this time with two pleasing novelties: a plot twist most readers won’t see coming (and some won’t believe even after it arrives) and a focus, increasingly rare in Woods’ thrillers-by-the-yard, on actually unfolding a single sustained narrative with limited interruptions for sex, posturing, upscale spending, and loose ends.

Stone’s least indulgent adventure in years. Never say never!

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33169-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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