Entertaining, Downton Abbey–era addition to the Holmes homage canon.

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THE MURDER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Dr. Watson teams up with the son of Holmes’ landlady to investigate the death of the celebrated sleuth in this Arthur Conan Doyle–inspired novel.

Holmes is really gone this time, Dr. Watson notes in his journal. The detective didn’t die at Reichenbach Falls 21 years ago; he resurfaced a few years later, eventually retiring to Sussex. Now, though, Holmes is truly dead, his body just found, with blunt-object injuries, in a granary in Kent. Watson goes to Baker Street to discuss the news with Mrs. Hudson, Holmes’ former landlady. Her son Christopher, now living in Holmes’ flat and contemplating medical school, asks to see the body and then declares that Holmes actually died being run over by a car of a recent make, most likely a 1912 Renault. Watson also travels to Bedlam to probe Holmes’ incarcerated nemesis Professor Moriarty, who asks to attend the funeral. Holmes’ will is then read, revealing an odd behest to provide ongoing monies to Delilah Church, one of the “Baker Street Irregulars” street kids who helped Holmes in his work. Her appearance at Holmes’ funeral, where Moriarty kills his guard before being hauled back to Bedlam, further convinces Christopher and Watson to find out what was really going on with Holmes. In alternating journal entries, they detail their journey through the social strata, which includes interactions with Wiggins, the Irregulars leader–turned–crime boss, various police officials and an aristocratic MP perhaps in Moriarty’s pocket. The case concludes with a fiery showdown that plays out the consequences of some disappointing (particularly to Watson), years-earlier action by Holmes. Holmes fans will likely be tickled by Fable’s tale, which amusingly brings Watson into the early 20th century, contending with a motorbike-riding, jeans-wearing Christopher and even a suffragette rally. The mystery plot gets a bit tangled at times, with an array of players and incidents, yet this also produces the kind of narrative Gordian knot that Holmes aficionados will relish. Overall, it’s a fun, fine setup for a new series pairing Watson with a plucky young partner.

Entertaining, Downton Abbey–era addition to the Holmes homage canon.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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