MURDER MAKES AN ENTREE

It's 1899, and Auguste Didier, master chef/sometime sleuth (the paperback Murder at the Masque, etc.), has herded the students of his London cooking school to the seaside resort of Broadstairs, where Auguste is to prepare a special anniversary banquet for the Society of Literary Lionisers. Charles Dickens, current focus of the Society, spent much time at Broadstairs, but Auguste's focus is on pleasing Edward, Prince of Wales, this year's honorary president of the Lionisers. In the kitchen of the Imperial hotel, Auguste sweats over the elaborate menu, aided by students Heinrich Freimuller, of the German Embassy; James Pegg, son of a veterinarian; butcher's son Algernon Peckham; Lord Alfred Wittisham, a protÇgÇ of old friend Emma Pryde; and two young women- -Emily Dawson and Alice Fenwick. All goes well as the dinner progresses to its finale—readings from Dickens, of course—but soon after dessert chairman Sir Thomas Throgmorton collapses and dies—of atropine poisoning it transpires, once Auguste's friend Inspector Egbert Rose of Scotland Yard takes over. The Prince of Wales makes a hasty escape as Rose and Auguste try to figure out how the poison was administered, and Rose investigates Throgmorton's fellow committee members, some of whom were on less than amicable terms with Sir Thomas—like jealous Samuel Pipkin, and smitten but rejected Gwendolyn Figgis-Hewett. The solution, its roots in the past and carrying little conviction, finally arrives after a second murder; much musing on facets of haute cuisine; endless Lioniser visits to Dickens's onetime haunts, and a whole series of pallid romances. Food aficionados and readers steeped in Dickensian may find pleasure here. For others, an indigestible stew whose chief ingredient is ennui.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14376-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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