An ardent tale about a formidable creature that will synchronize cheers and ruminations.

Curse the Day

From the The Unveiling series , Vol. 1

In this supernatural debut, a shadowy figure begins killing humans he marks as truly evil, while apparently trying to ignite a war between the corrupt and the incorruptible.

Organized Crime Control Bureau Detective Eliot Fawkes knows the brutal murder of Cal Nereza could signify the end of a truce between two mob families. Because who other than mob boss Adriano Lucia would kill the son of his rival, Vittore Nereza? But Eliot encounters Azrael, a mysterious figure killing “blackhearted” humans who bring pain and suffering to others. Azrael is apparently activating Lightborns, who are most resistant to evil and include Eliot, journalist Eva Acadian, and Adriano’s estranged teenage son, Celino. Two strangers, Remiel and Cassiel, are soon searching for Azrael, but it’s quickly evident that he’s awakened something much worse than he is and with the power to crush a U.S. military vessel like an empty soda can. Four guardians from around the world—including surfer Sera in California and London-based Sacha—gather for the purpose of summoning an individual who can stop the creature that Azrael’s released. It’s clear that Azrael isn’t concerned with instigating a Mafia war, but rather a confrontation on a global scale. Evil may be vanquished, but there’s a frightening possibility that humanity could destroy itself in the process. It’s not hard to ascertain what Azrael, Cassiel, and some others are, though the author largely avoids the A-word. Hardison, however, concentrates on frequent debates on the nature of good and evil, typically with Azrael speaking to his potential victims. Fortunately, the dialogue’s both sharp and profound: “Where your life is concerned, maybe what you deem salvation I would just call good timing,” says a never-quite-trustworthy Azrael. The author, too, digs deep into his good-versus-evil theme, thoroughly examining both sides. A doctor, for example, may be a contradiction to his lifesaving profession, while an incarcerated serial killer endlessly struggles to understand the way he is. Hardison’s just getting started with this book, so an epic battle—Lightborns against Darkborns, perhaps?—doesn’t happen. Notwithstanding, there’s a stellar fight late in the story, and fully established characters guarantee a sequel opening at full tilt.

An ardent tale about a formidable creature that will synchronize cheers and ruminations.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5307-7347-3

Page Count: 390

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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

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