Not enough unique here to leave a mark on a horror fan’s imagination.

A STAKE IN MURDER

Kirch offers an unusual twist on the overdone vampire mythos in this simplistic supernatural thriller.

For the creature at the center of his paranormal tale, Kirch wisely uses a variation on vampires, the Filipino aswang. Anton Gerrold was thought dead from a stake in the heart after a series of gruesome murders in Phoenix in 1991. But—oops—the authorities missed his tiny heart. So now Gerrold has returned to terrorize women in Los Angeles more than 20 years later. And he makes a horrific monster: “There was a scent to pregnant women that the vampire found irresistible….Nothing was more fantastic than unborn flesh being ripped between his teeth.” Capt. Darren Matheson, a veteran homicide detective, gets sucked into a world he doesn’t understand while investigating these bizarre attacks. The FBI agent who thought Gerrold had been destroyed sends Matheson to retrieve his former helper, disgraced reporter Sebastian Hemlock, from Kansas City, where he was resigned to working for a tabloid newspaper. Hemlock grabs this chance to get the job done right while redeeming his reputation and maybe rekindling his love with Karon Ramiko. “The FBI made him destroy my life as a means of controlling me and what I know: that there are indeed monsters in this world,” Hemlock says. While Kirch’s original concept is intriguing and he provides a diverting governmental-coverup subplot, this short narrative falls together far too neatly. Too quickly, Matheson, Hemlock and his ex-girlfriend Lt. Karon Ramiko have located Gerrold’s hideout and marched off on their mission to slay the beast, without enough time to build suspense. There’s little space dedicated to fleshing out these cardboard characters, either. Instead, it’s the steady cop and the bickering couple, who are still in love, that team up to save the day. The intriguing concept is wasted on a predictable narrative, adding little that’s new to the genre.

Not enough unique here to leave a mark on a horror fan’s imagination.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1771151955

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2014

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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