Cameron is a worthy keeper of the Clancy flame. Fans will be pleased.

TOM CLANCY SHADOW OF THE DRAGON

Cameron continues the late Tom Clancy’s long tradition of exciting thrillers featuring the Ryan family and rock-ribbed American heroes.

As an American science vessel pushes through Arctic ice in the Chukchi Borderland, a researcher hears banging and underwater human screams. Soon it becomes clear that a "boomer is in distress and calling for help.” Said boomer is a People’s Liberation Army submarine patrolling the Arctic, and its crew will die if it can’t surface. At the same time, series regular John Clark is in Vietnam training new agent Lisanne Robertson on how to avoid landing in a “Yourassisgrassistan” prison. And the Chinese have their worries as they combat the “Three Evils” of “terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism.” They crack down on Uyghurs, who want “independence from the Chinese boot,” so Chinese intelligence is looking for a Uyghur separatist woman in western China whose husband had been trundled off for reeducation. But luckily, “the good guys”—in particular, the CIA’s John Clark—are looking for her too. It turns out that the woman has specific engineering knowledge of considerable military value to the great powers, and she wants to escape. Maybe Clark can help, or maybe not. And as if all this isn’t complicated enough, the CIA is pretty sure it has a mole whom the Chinese have code-named SURVEYOR and who is selling secrets to Beijing. The mole hunters search relentlessly, because they “hated Communism with the intensity of a thousand suns. Socialism was no better.” Clancy’s fans are used to these grand-scale plots, where a big part of the fun is seeing how all the puzzle pieces fit together in one big salute to American power and righteousness. And as for Cameron’s style, it’s as if Clancy himself were at the keyboard.  

Cameron is a worthy keeper of the Clancy flame. Fans will be pleased.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

A TIME FOR MERCY

A small-town Mississippi courtroom becomes the setting for a trademark Grisham legal tussle.

Stuart Kofer is not a nice guy. He drinks way too much and likes to brawl. One night, coming home in a foul mood with a blood alcohol count more than triple the legal limit, he breaks his live-in girlfriend’s jaw. He’s done terrible things to her children, too—and now her 16-year-old boy, Drew, puts an end to the terror. Unfortunately for the kid in a place where uniforms are worshipped, Stu was a well-liked cop. “Did it really matter if he was sixteen or sixty? It certainly didn’t matter to Stu Kofer, whose stock seemed to rise by the hour,” writes Grisham of local opinion about giving Drew the benefit of the doubt. Jake Brigance, the hero of the tale, is a lawyer who’s down to his last dime until a fat wrongful-death case is settled. It doesn’t help his bank book when the meaningfully named Judge Omar Noose orders him to defend the kid. Backed by a brilliant paralegal whose dream is to be the first Black female lawyer in the county, he prepares for what the local sheriff correctly portends will be “an ugly trial” that may well land Drew on death row. As ever, Grisham capably covers the mores of his native turf, from gun racks to the casual use of the N-word. As well, he examines Bible Belt attitudes toward abortion and capital punishment as well as the inner workings of the courtroom, such as jury selection: “What will your jury look like?” asks a trial consultant, to which Jake replies, “A regular posse. It’s rural north Mississippi, and I’ll try to change venue to another county simply because of the notoriety.” The story runs on a touch long, as Grisham yarns tend to do, and it gets a bit gory at times, but the level of tension is satisfyingly high all the way to the oddly inconclusive end.

Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54596-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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