Every detail Gardiner (Phantom Instinct, 2014, etc.) uses to grease the skids is over-the-top, but readers sucked into this...

UNSUB

Move over, Zodiac. The latest of the countless fictional serial killers you’ve inspired gives you a blistering run for your money.

Two decades after a mysteriously self-limited five-year murder spree that cost 11 Bay Area citizens their lives and cost Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Detective Mack Hendrix his partner, his peace of mind, and much of his sanity, the killer whom police departments in two Bay Area counties have dubbed the Prophet roars back with a vengeance. Mack’s daughter, Caitlin, a newly minted Narcotics detective with the ACSD, is detailed to Homicide in hopes that she can make use of her father’s encyclopedic knowledge of the case. Ignoring her distraught mother’s advice that “you’re throwing yourself into the volcano,” Caitlin struggles to tap Mack’s memory for forgotten insights, fight off the attentions of obnoxious East Bay Herald reporter Bart Fletcher, and anticipate the next move of the Prophet, aka Mercury. The Prophet meanwhile dispatches two pairs of victims—a waitress and a supermarket checker are whipped, strangled, and nailed to death, and the deaths of two partners are broadcast live in a coffee shop to a horrified audience in an unforgettably grueling set piece—but has to settle for only one of still another pair he’s targeted. Along the way, he leaves a series of taunting notes addressed to the wider public before focusing in particular on Caitlin, who luckily turns out to be just as clever as her diabolical prey when it matters most.

Every detail Gardiner (Phantom Instinct, 2014, etc.) uses to grease the skids is over-the-top, but readers sucked into this vortex won’t care; they’ll be too busy counting down the hours to the appearance of the promised sequel, which seems poised to begin about five minutes after the final scene.

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98552-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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
  • 73

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?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

Did you like this book?

more