A so-so murder mystery best left for fans of Twin Peaks.

A pop-culture writer and podcaster attempt to solve a 120-year-old cold-case murder in upstate New York.

Bushman and Givens are in thrall to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, about which Bushman has written and Givens has devoted a podcast. On the TV show, a woman named Laura Palmer turns up dead, and it’s up to investigators and curious townies to examine a barrel of red herrings before hazarding a provisional truth. So it is with the case of Hazel Drew, “beautiful, blonde, and connected to a number of powerful men,” whose dreadfully swollen body was recovered from a pond not far from Troy, New York, in 1908. The real-life gruesomeness is classic Lynch territory, though more reminiscent of his film Blue Velvet than of the relatively civilized series. Investigators in the Drew case hazarded any number of guesses, many of which concerned the young woman’s character. Though from a hardscrabble background, with an alcoholic, chronically unemployed father, she had some money and nice things, and the conclusion was that she must have come by them by illicit means. The authors paint a detailed portrait of a police force—indeed, a whole city—riven by petty politics and undermined by corruption. They are also hopelessly bound to Twin Peaks. “Sand Lake, we found out, has twin peaks of its own: Perigo Hill, in the northeast corner of the town, and Oak Hill, near the center, each rising to an elevation of nine hundred feet,” they write, a point that contributes nothing to the tale. The looping narrative is dogged by other annoyances, including the authors’ habit of peppering the narrative with far too many rhetorical questions: “Where was Hazel going when she left Union Station on Monday, July 6? Where did she spend Monday night and Tuesday morning?” Their proposed solution stands up to reason, but by the time they arrive at it, readers could be forgiven for abandoning the chase.

A so-so murder mystery best left for fans of Twin Peaks.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2643-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021



"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965



An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020