The predictable plot doesn’t get in the way of the characters’ charm, though a sharper focus on the distinctive 1930s...

The Darkness Knows

A rising radio star recruits a private eye to help her investigate the murder of a co-worker in the hope that she won’t be the next victim.

Vivian Witchell has no illusions about her skills as an actress. Though she’s not a great talent, she’s serviceable on the radio and feels lucky to work for Chicago’s WCHI. She’s even landed the plum role of Lorna Lafferty on The Darkness Knows. All is hunky dory in Viv’s world, though she can’t tell if handsome co-star Graham Yarborough’s intimations of a potential date are genuine or part of the show’s publicity. After coffee with Graham, which turns out to be nothing more than coffee, Vivian returns to the station to pick up her umbrella only to stumble on a prone body that launches a murder investigation. The dead woman is Marjorie Fox, an aging radio starlet with a drinking problem that should have killed her before her penchant for angering her co-workers did. Viv assumes that one of her colleagues must be Marjorie’s murderer until private investigator Charlie Haverman warns her there might be something more at play. Charlie, concerned for Viv’s well-being, shows her a letter Marjorie received from a listener-turned-stalker and maybe murderer. Now Charlie’s bent on protecting Viv, though all she wants to do is find out whodunit. Can she talk Charlie into helping her solve the crime, or does he have his own dark connections to hide?

The predictable plot doesn’t get in the way of the characters’ charm, though a sharper focus on the distinctive 1930s setting could have added a bit more fun to the follies in this bright debut.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-4926-2861-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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