An oceangoing SF/techno-thriller made especially seaworthy by its depth, not just its depth charges.

MARINER'S WAKE

In Marsh’s future-set novel, tough, freedom-loving, and eco-minded sailors patrol Earth’s seas against greedy, corrupt empires.

SF/fantasy author Marsh envisions a late-21st-century future in which, following a second American civil war (which ended mysteriously and inconclusively), a large number of environmentalists and democracy lovers flee the greedy, corrupt United States—basically a vassal of Russia—to form the Mariners, a seagoing, island-centered nation-state. Mariners, aka “shipsies,” are considered rogues, occupying much of the Pacific with their ragtag, resourceful navy. They have cleansed their waters of plastic and maintained sustainable sea life (even saving the whales) but face incursions from mammoth fossil fuel container ships and voracious fishing fleets. Then from the treacherous USA comes a surprise envoy, Congressman Arnold Drummond, claiming to want a peaceful mission, in cooperation with a U.S. Navy warship, to investigate a mysterious, sunken complex. The site is rumored to hold advanced, perhaps apocalyptic, weapons cached before the war, and coordinates have already leaked to the criminal underworld. Navigator Kara Nkosi, adopted into Mariner society as a human-trafficked little girl and now a fierce defender of its values, distrusts the Americans but finds herself in dangerous straits as the recovery mission involves powerful entities. Marsh’s believable worldbuilding only improves this climate-changed dystopia. The well-conceived Greenpeace-with-guts heroes make compelling characters. The cli-fi aspects aren’t overdone and neither are the cyberpunk trappings of enhanced humans. Pages turn faster than a propeller when it’s time for battle stations, and action comes on brisk and fiery. Belowdecks, though, lies genuine conviction about this slightly altered tomorrow—a place where morally bankrupt corporate states rule like pirate kings and a major holiday is “Putin Day.”

An oceangoing SF/techno-thriller made especially seaworthy by its depth, not just its depth charges.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-938190-72-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Brick Cave Media

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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