DELIRIUM

The desire of architecture to impose order, and the repercussions of artistic ``overreaching,'' are given dramatic and often cryptic symbolic expression in this unusual second novel (``the first-ever to be serialized on the Web'') from the Canadian- born Cooper, who's a comic-surrealist crossbreed of the late Lawrence Durrell and William S. Burroughs. Several different stories are told by a narrator whose eventual revelation of his identity links this novel closely to its predecessor, 1994's Amnesia (with which Delirium should probably be read in tandem). Famous architect Ariel Price (born Preuss), who had dreamed of creating a Toronto that would match the structural marvels of Paris, has instead constructed ``a tombstone growing from the heart of a labyrinth'' in the eyes of those who judge him, and must face the consequences of his exploitation of a young street waif (Bethany), and his resolvebased on his insistence that ``no life bears scrutiny'' (a refrain repeated throughout)to murder Theseus Crouch, his putative biographer. And, in a series of ``Parallel Lives,'' which pair up other characters in disastrous combinations, Cooper teasingly explores (often obscure) connections among art, human aspiration, ``whoredom,'' and punishment. A further puzzling dimension is added by Ariel's ``discovery'' of the submerged city of Gomorrah; by the relationship between his daughter Arianna and Izzy Darlow (from Amnesia), who's researching the architecture of biblical cities; and by the implicit likening of Bethany's self-abasement to the tortuous reformation of Mary Magdalen (here identified with a prostitute, ``Saintes-Maries,'' and perhaps also a masochistic performance artist, Scilla, who enchants businessman Tom Sorrow, who works in Ariel Price's most celebrated office building). The compromising of visionary ideals by contact with sublunary lust and greed is clearly a central theme in a baffling, fascinating fiction that seems part of a multivolume work still in progress. One wonders what will succeed Amnesia and Delirium. A further descent into the maelstrom, or some promise of recovery?

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-6341-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1998

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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