The 12th case for the irrepressible Laotian coroner (I Shot the Buddha, 2016, etc.) has a rambling plot but crackles with...

THE RAT CATCHERS' OLYMPICS

Cotterill’s curmudgeonly coroner visits the Moscow Olympics, uncovering diverse dastardly deeds.

Though subversive Dr. Siri has left his post as Laotian national coroner, his interest in politics and the world at large remains acute. Because of the international boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Laos has a rare opportunity to send athletes to the games for the first time. Siri uses deliciously underhanded means to accompany the Laotian athletes as team doctor. A starchy retired bureaucrat named Civilai heads up their delegation. When she hears of the trip, blunt nurse Dtui, Siri’s former sidekick at the coroner’s office, insists on joining this adventure over the objections of her husband, Inspector Phosy, and the needs of their young child. Add Siri’s high-maintenance wife, Madame Daeng, and the adventure is sure to be eventful. Keeping the unsophisticated athletes focused, a job that’s like herding cats, gets even more complicated when Civilai receives a call from home letting him know that an as-yet-unnamed member of the team is actually an assassin. The group decides to keep a watchful eye on their charges, which turns out to be a poor decision, as evidence piles up and disaster seems imminent. While Phosy investigates back in Laos, Siri visits the assassin’s reported target. For their part, Madame Daeng and Dtui seem more interested in ogling the athletes than helping with the probe.

The 12th case for the irrepressible Laotian coroner (I Shot the Buddha, 2016, etc.) has a rambling plot but crackles with humor and overflows with eccentric characters. Droll chapter titles add an extra soupcon of mirth.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61695-825-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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