For all Lewis’s sharply etched paranoia and panic, the irresistible premise of his plot is buried under a barrel of...


An all-too-believably routine mistake plunges a London corporate attorney’s life into unbelievable turmoil.

Even more than most rising juniors at Madison & Vere, Lewis Penn’s got a lot on his mind. He’s being pressed to take on new jobs with impossible deadlines; his latest girlfriend doesn’t want to see him again; and his brother Dan, stricken with multiple sclerosis since childhood, is dying in a Bristol hospice. So it’s no wonder that he arrives back at the office following a meeting with UKI, a Ukrainian mineral company that’s one of M&V’s major clients, having lost along the way the folder of confidential financial information he was supposed to review. Or has he really lost it? When some quick searches and a few phone calls don’t turn it up at the most likely places, Lewis wonders if he ever took the folder in the first place. Retracing his steps to UKI in a bravura sequence that shows just how little he remembers about the meeting, he finds the folder and makes off with it. As events soon disclose, however, his maneuver is much more a theft than he realized: UKI is now clearly missing a second folder, one that security chief Viktor Hadzewycz is so eager to retrieve that it might as well be radioactive. Too late, Lewis realizes he’s already copied the suspect folder and messengered it to M&V’s branch in Washington, from which his efforts to retrieve it will land him in trouble that will deepen and broaden until it involves not only the police on two continents but also, rather improbably, bedridden Dan.

For all Lewis’s sharply etched paranoia and panic, the irresistible premise of his plot is buried under a barrel of flashbacks, side trips, maundering, and dire hints whose import is never quite clear: a first novel that never lives up to its considerable promise.

Pub Date: April 14, 2003

ISBN: 1-57322-239-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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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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