A charming historical novel hampered by an uneven pace.

MURDER IN MADRID

THE REALITY OF ILLUSION

A decades-old murder haunts the lives of a young couple with a connection to the victim.

In this debut novel, justice is swift in the rough-and-tumble mining town of Madrid, New Mexico, at the turn of the 20th century. When Chandler Pruitt, the universally disliked mining supervisor, is shot to death, Margaret Connelly, a beautiful young widow, is quickly executed for the crime, though the evidence of her guilt is by no means convincing. The unfortunate events happened long ago, but they still haunt Louise Devereaux, who lived in Madrid as a child. Now elderly, she’s written a memoir that includes her recollections of the case. When she shows up at Langley Publishing attempting to sell her book, editor Alan Kinsley is prepared to give her the polite brushoff. But something about the woman and her story captures his attention, and he decides to investigate further. On a vacation to the Southwest with his wife, Beth, Alan tries to get to the truth, digging through old records and interviewing the handful of people still alive who remember the incident. When he discovers that both he and his wife have ties to the killing, it threatens to upend their marriage. Turk’s story explores the consequences of family secrets and the ways the past sometimes rudely forces its way into the present. While the book relies a bit too heavily on a convenient coincidence to bring its characters together, the tale itself is engaging, and it’s easy to see how Alan could get caught up in solving this mystery. Louise is a spitfire with moxie, while the aging residents of Madrid provide colorful commentary on past events. But the depiction of a Native American woman who is also tied to the murder is straight out of an old Western, and not in a good way. The novel drags at points too, with Alan and Beth repeatedly discussing a side trip to Alamogordo that never takes place and intriguing, but largely irrelevant, anecdotes about local history distracting from the larger narrative. The book is at its best when it stays focused on Margaret, Chandler, and the others involved in their tragic tale.

A charming historical novel hampered by an uneven pace.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5442-6778-4

Page Count: 392

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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