A zigzagging mystery with an intuitive, competent protagonist.

SCABLANDS

A forensic psychologist in the mid-1990s consults on an investigation of the murder of her former intern in Averett’s (Cameron and the Girls, 2013, etc.) thriller.

It’s not the first time that Detective Olive Durant has hired Dr. Carmen Carillo as a consultant. The difference is that, in this case, Carmen knows the murder victim. Cops discovered Dr. Denny Musgrove’s mangled corpse inside the carcass of an eviscerated cow. Carmen had supervised him years before while he was a graduate student, and both doctors eventually had practices in Lamona, Washington. Denny’s last patient was Vincent Berenga, whom Carmen had referred to him and who’s now missing. Carmen knows that Vincent’s capable of such a grisly murder, but as the investigation continues, she’s surprised by a number of things that Denny had been up to, from making house calls for patients to possibly cheating on his wife. Complicating matters is Sturdevant Day, who owns the property where police found Denny’s body and who’s caring for his sickly neighbor, Evangeline (who happens to be Vincent’s mom). Carmen falls for the handsome Sturdevant, but she refuses to allow that to distract her from the case, which soon involves another murder with the same M.O. and a physical threat against Carmen herself. Averett gets his mystery off to a running start, establishing the various character relationships early. Along the way, there are myriad plot turns, not just regarding the investigation, but Carmen’s personal life as well. Readers may find some of the material that Carmen digs into, such as pornography, to be relatively tame, but they give the protagonist opportunities to view the case from a more clinical perspective, which adds credibility to the story. Her narration is rife with questions, effectively indicating the amateur sleuth’s tendency to constantly examine what she’s learned. A significant drawback, however, is the fact that Olive is limited to periodic appearances, as Carmen tends to work alone; as a result, two minor characters’ offensive slights against the detective have less impact, as only Carmen is there to hear them.

A zigzagging mystery with an intuitive, competent protagonist.

Pub Date: June 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9989359-0-4

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Wellborn Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2017

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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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