Sweeps along at mach-Ludlum speed but still digs deeply into Arab/Israeli horrors—resolvable perhaps only by the...

BLOOD DIAMONDS

Fifth in Land’s series featuring Palestinian-American Police Inspector Ben Kamal and Israeli Chief Inspector Danielle Barnea (Keepers of the Gate, 2001), star-crossed lovers who meet and part, meet and part.

Cyclical violence now blooms where Land once went light on cultural antagonisms affecting his leads (one of the lovers’ split-ups came because Danielle, a Jew who has lost her entire family, as has Ben, can’t bear to see a child of hers and Ben’s crushed by religious conflict). On the other hand, Land enjoys coming up with far-out newfangled scientific works: Danielle has carried a fatally flawed fetus, sired by Ben, that could possibly be saved by a new genetic marvel masterminded by a victim in one of their cases. Now, the baby has not survived, Danielle is on administrative leave, and Ben—in Arab disguise—arrests a Russian arms smuggler on the West Bank while being stoned and shot at as a traitor by Palestinians who stone or shoot their own uniformed police as quickly as they do the Israelis’ (and, meanwhile, Ben’s fellow detectives fight the Israelis rather than patrol the streets or hunt criminals). Then, during an op against diamond smugglers, Danielle lands in a Jerusalem jail, charged with killing her superior. “I thought being together was still possible for us,” moans Ben. In the meantime, off in diamond-rich Sierra Leone, Latisse Matabu, a female bin Laden who calls herself The Dragon, unleashes the end of the world on villagers to show her power. Soon Ben and Danielle are off and fighting the Dragon, who now wants to destroy America and kill half the world with her own biological version of the Black Death. Bodies drop in piles, and there’s a flaming shipboard climax ahead.

Sweeps along at mach-Ludlum speed but still digs deeply into Arab/Israeli horrors—resolvable perhaps only by the “miscegenation” that Ben and Danielle stand for.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-765-30226-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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