Sluggish pace and colorless prose don’t add up to much of a mystery, in this seventh novel from the author of Suspicion...



What if a happy gang of teenagers take a vow in 1972 to reunite twenty years later, and one of them seems to have vanished?

Whatever happened to Angel Busky? Beautiful Angel was sexually adventurous, collecting high-school virgins just for the fun of it, planning to have six children by six different men, and the like. Two decades later, Willa, the smart girl of the ragtag group, wonders about her erstwhile bosom buddy. Willa’s become the writer of a tell-all biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett, which has inexplicably found avid readers. At a book signing, she runs into still-handsome Patrick, another member of the gang, now an NYU professor. He doesn’t know what became of Angel, either, but they catch up on bad boy Caleb; Jeremiah, the virgin geek; Shake, the harmonica player; Vinny, the tough-talking guinea; and Travis, the stoner. Willa wants to dig deeper, being no stranger to the dark side of human nature: Her husband Simon, a criminal lawyer, died when a tenement, the site of his love nest with a lady judge, collapsed. Willa was shattered but she keeps busy raising her 14-year-old daughter Chloe—and fretting lately about the pretty teenager’s sudden interest in a delivery boy. She hires p.i. Jovan Luisi to find Angel or figure out what happened to her, not knowing that the taciturn investigator is instantly smitten with her. There’s a long road ahead, covering everyone’s post–high-school history: Travis builds abode houses in the Southwest; Caleb married a rich widow and got into unsavory schemes; Vinny has a gas station and auto-repair shop; Shake still makes that old harmonica moan and wail. But what about Jeremiah? He was always a little strange, but now . . . . Some screaming, some skulking around in the woods, until the not-surprising truth is revealed in a lackluster denouement.

Sluggish pace and colorless prose don’t add up to much of a mystery, in this seventh novel from the author of Suspicion (1999), etc.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-0599-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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