Revenge and justice burn across Texas in this gripping, grisly shootout.

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SHOOTING CROWS AT DAWN

Escaped murderers, a Texas sheriff and an author who isn’t afraid to spill a lot of blood.

Crime novelist Grace (Daniel, 2010, etc.) sets up a classic police procedural, but whets the plot with cutthroat Texas politics told in the sharp perspective of a remorseless escaped con. Aging Sheriff Jubal Dark put murderer Carl Alvin Spence in prison four years ago—since then, Spence has thought only of freedom and revenge. After his escape from a Louisiana prison, Spence aims for Mexico with two co-conspirators along for the ride, but he can’t pass through Texas without trying for Dark’s life. Meanwhile, Dark, sheriff of Francine County for nearly 20 years, focuses on his upcoming, long-odds reelection bid. Two years before, a local girl was found raped and murdered in her home; despite Dark’s best efforts, the killer is still walking free. Spence rumbles through the county on a murderous romp two weeks before the election—although he fails to take out the sheriff, the trail of stolen cars and dead bodies does nothing to help Dark’s reelection bid. Relentless Dark vows to stop Spence before the election, so the chase is on. Initially, the bloody details of Spence’s violence—told from his brutal perspective—feel gratuitous, but as the novel progresses, his cunning and ruthlessness hit the right notes for guilty pleasure. One drawback: Grace has a tendency to overwork his similes and metaphors with impressive comparisons from unlikely sources, distracting the reader. Dimwitted escapee Bobby Joe Blaine poetically compares a dying man to “a puppet with a cut string.” Luckily, the touch of literary license doesn’t sever the tension.

Revenge and justice burn across Texas in this gripping, grisly shootout.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1434440365

Page Count: 354

Publisher: PointBlank/Wildside

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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