A winning twin spin that combines an ethical conundrum with a police procedural.



Two brothers are connected to a murder—in divergent ways—in this novel.

At the beginning of Random’s (Defying Gravity, 2016) tale, there’s a body, a weapon, an eyewitness, and a confession. Harvard psychology professor Olek Janko died in his apartment from knife wounds inflicted by Gary Vaughn. Gary confesses to the homicide, which his brother, Maynard, witnessed and reported to the authorities. What veteran Police Lt. Joe “The Bull” Antonelli thinks will be a clear-cut case turns bizarre when “attractive and ambiguously ethnic” Detective Cassandra “Cassie” Navarro reveals that the Vaughn boys share a connection more profound that brotherhood: they are conjoined twins. Maynard is a soft-spoken, articulate, and presumed innocent witness to a murder, and Gary is the coldblooded killer. The Vaughns, joined at the abdomen, had been part of a twin study Janko was conducting; now Antonelli summarizes: “We have a confessed murderer, but we have an apparently innocent man attached to him.” Courtroom scenes present a riveting debate as to the degree that conjoined twins can be independent—is it just a physical condition, or if one twin has a mind to kill, how involved psychologically is the other in that decision? And if he can’t be punished without penalizing Maynard, did Gary commit the perfect crime? During their investigation, Antonelli and Cassie interview Janko’s estranged wife and former research assistant, Christina Cole, who seems more concerned with the twins than with her dead husband. The story moves quickly, and Random is able to craft a plot that sounds far-fetched on the surface but becomes poignantly believable. Descriptions are rich: “A black sky salted with stars” and “The brothers were looking in two different directions at once—like a lizard whose eyes work independently of each other.” Smart dialogue fills quick-paced scenes, and accounts of Boston’s North End are vivid (cannoli, anyone?). Strong women and players of various ethnicities fill the pages. Lead character Antonelli is a bit of a sexagenarian dandy, with his hand-tailored suits and gold-embossed cuff links.

A winning twin spin that combines an ethical conundrum with a police procedural.

Pub Date: March 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63524-846-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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