A winning protagonist and authentic sense of place make this a mystery worth puzzling over.

READ REVIEW

SNAKEBITE

An amateur sleuth comes to the rescue in this suspenseful backwoods drug caper.

Wealand’s unpretentious debut mystery novel reveals its disarming, straight-shooting charm from the first sentence: “Dr. Garnet Daniels hurried toward the women’s restroom desperately squeezing her anal sphincter and hoping she wouldn't meet anyone on the way.” Garnet, who struggles with irritable bowel syndrome, is something of an anomaly as a successful, well-respected doctor in her small Arkansas community who teaches Gross Anatomy at the local medical school. With her husband away on a long trip overseas during her first summer vacation in years, she looks forward to getting some much-needed relaxation. However, her niece, Colleen, who’s living with her for the season, gets involved with a morally dubious college football star and then implicated in a drug investigation. Garnet puts her intelligence and occasionally far-fetched intuition to good use; at one point, for example, she tracks down the snake whose titular bite has landed the football star in the hospital—and whose stomach contains a key piece of evidence. Some suspension of disbelief is also necessary to swallow the idea that local law enforcement would readily accept Garnet’s somewhat intrusive help. For the book’s middle stretch, Garnet and Colleen are joined by Colleen’s mother, Rae; her business partner, Maezelle; and Garnet’s other sister, Valentine. Wealand’s large cast of characters can feel excessively crowded; later, her focus zooms out to introduce even more new characters as the scope of the investigation expands. Also, the book suffers slightly from its characterization of marijuana as a gateway drug. However, Wealand’s prose is readable, often funny and always clear, and she vividly and intimately conjures her rural setting (“The muted roar of the outboards lulled the passengers who began to relax and enjoy the sparkling current and graveled banks of the winding river”). Mystery fans will surely enjoy this romp and look forward to the series’ next installment.

A winning protagonist and authentic sense of place make this a mystery worth puzzling over.

Pub Date: June 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692212851

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Pairodocs

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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