Fans of Gardner’s Tessa Leoni, D.D. Warren, and Flora Dane will embrace her new heroine's grit and empathy.

BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED

Gardner introduces Frankie Elkin, a tough, street-smart survivor who has found her calling searching for missing persons.

Frankie is an alcoholic who considers herself responsible for the death of the man she loved. As penance, she travels around the country, volunteering to locate missing people for whom there may be no new leads. She knows that not everyone believes in her gifts or trusts her motives, but she cannot back down from the opportunity to find answers for these grieving families. When she comes to Boston to investigate the disappearance of Angelique Badeau, she takes a cheap apartment and a bartending job at a scruffy neighborhood bar, sticking out like a sore thumb but determined to make headway in a case that has baffled the police. Teenagers go missing and teenagers run away, but not Angelique. She and her brother survived the earthquake in Haiti to live with their aunt in America, taking advantage of opportunities to work hard and get a good education. Frankie discovers that Angelique is not the only teenage girl to have disappeared in the neighborhood; a few months after her, another girl went missing. This girl’s family, torn apart by gang violence and poverty, may have been reason enough to run away, but Frankie has been around the block enough to know: There are no coincidences. Then Angelique passes a message to her brother: proof of life, but no hint as to where she’s being held. With the help of a ruggedly handsome detective, Frankie digs relentlessly into the case—until people start dying. Now in a race against time, she must discover why these girls have been kidnapped—and why they might be running out of time. Gardner is a pro at writing tough-as-nails, wiseass, broken-yet-steely female characters, and Frankie does not disappoint. Plus, it’s a pretty solid mystery.

Fans of Gardner’s Tessa Leoni, D.D. Warren, and Flora Dane will embrace her new heroine's grit and empathy.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4504-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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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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