At first muddled and confusing, the book goes on to raise intriguing questions and possibilities for fans of both men.

THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. DOYLE

A JOURNEY INTO MADNESS AND MAYHEM

A father-and-son team exposes the similarities of two very strange men, Jack the Ripper and Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Friedmans intersperse a biography of Doyle with a re-enactment of a tour of a handful of sites where the Ripper’s victims were killed. The original tour, which included Doyle, was an activity undertaken by a group the press referred to as the “Murder Club,” a dining club comprised of professional men who debated popular criminal cases (“admission to the club became one of the most sought-after prizes in the realm”). The authors have cast Doyle as leader of the tour, with a fictitious assortment of Ripper followers, including an American doctor, two ladies, two brothers, a lawyer and a financier. From the first, Doyle becomes the formulaic Holmes character, exuding pedantry and disdain for any theories not his own. His superiority complex and the never-ending scraps of information from his pockets eventually become tedious. The biographical sections of the book are much more interesting, as the authors expose the man with a titanic ego who always had a good excuse for his failures—e.g., even his thesis listed barriers that prevented a better paper. Doyle’s transcripts from medical school have been altered, and his letters home do not gel with actual events as he developed his fiction writing. His medical career never took off, but his schooling exposed him to three brilliant diagnosticians who provided the perfect model for Sherlock Holmes. Throughout, the Friedmans have the tour members discussing the intelligence, surgical ability and misogyny that could apply to both Holmes (Doyle) and the Ripper. The biography ends with the first Holmes mystery published in 1887, the year before the Ripper murders. “It would take four more years for Doyle’s consulting detective to bring him fame and fortune,” write the authors.

At first muddled and confusing, the book goes on to raise intriguing questions and possibilities for fans of both men.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7570-0348-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: SquareOne Publishers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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