A literary feast.

READ REVIEW

THE LAKE

Enormously impressive first fiction from poet and blacksmith Villasenor, who traces the trajectory of a despondent philosopher from the nuthouse to a place he can finally call home.

To reach that place, however, Zachary Brannagan first must bring tragedy into the lives of those who care most about him. Though he was once a promising young scholar, Zach's cloistered, studious life has been in ruins since the night he lay down to sleep in the middle of a road outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Institutionalized, he befriends an elderly psychiatrist, who loans him the money to travel in search of his natural parents, somewhere on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. But ill fortune strikes Zach in New Orleans: his money stolen, he lives on the street until taken to a Catholic shelter, where on his first night he's assaulted and sliced with a razor. Fleeing blindly, he finds his way by chance to The Lake, a backwoods haven for maimed and afflicted children run by the supremely capable Anna, who seems to need nothing other than the company of her charges. At this refuge Zach begins to heal physically and spiritually, in the process making friends with the shelter's most special child, Samuel, a redheaded epileptic who doesn't speak but nonetheless communicates eloquently. Though he's grown close to Anna as well, Zach tears himself away to resume his journey, taking Samuel with him. They find disaster on the road soon enough, and the shock of it brings Zach at last to an understanding of what truly matters. As the story unfolds, this already engrossing drama of sadness and redemption is elevated to an even higher level by the author's poetic sensibility, which conveys to the most ordinary things a rare luster and warmth that recast the whole of reality in the shimmering, singing colors of a rainbow.

A literary feast.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-89161-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

MERCY

Despite kilt-wearing characters right out of Brigadoon, Picoult (Picture Perfect, 1995, etc.) persuasively explores a mercy killing in a small Massachusetts town and the subject of spouses who love too much. Wheelock has been home to the tradition-upholding MacDonalds and their hereditary chieftains since the 18th century, when the clan fled Scotland after the British defeated them in battle. Each clan chief has inherited more responsibilities over time, and the current laird Cam MacDonald is, like his father before him, the local chief of police. Cam yearns to travel and, though married, finds wife Allie's devotion stifling. Allie, a florist, has in turn suppressed all of her own opinions and pleasures for the sake of making Cam, whom she adores, happy. As the story begins, another MacDonald, James, has demonstrated his overwhelming love for wife Maggie in a very extreme form: James turns himself in to cousin Cam after admitting that he has smothered Maggie at her request because she was terminally ill with cancer and could no longer stand the pain. While the quality and wisdom of James's devotion to his wife will be tried in public, Allie's love for Cam will also be tested as free spirit Mia arrives in town. Mia has been everywhere and seen all the places Cam dreams of; she is also a whiz with flowers and gets immediately hired by Allie. While Allie helps James's lawyer find witnesses who will attest to his devotion to Maggie (he's now being tried for murder), Cam and Mia have an affair. A heartsick Allie learns of it, throws Cam out, sells all of his belongings, and then tries to forget him. But true love is resilient, and Allie, like James, having learned the price of being ``the one who loves more,'' will now try for greater balance. Overly predictable characters aside, Picoult does manage this time to bring trendy, headline-grabbing themes to life. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-14160-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more