A gripping but convoluted The Most Dangerous Game meets The Island of Doctor Moreau.

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TRAPS

In this debut thriller, a hiker who discovers caged endangered animals becomes trapped himself.

Adirondack backpacker Basil “Baz” Billings is trespassing when he enters a cave and climbs down into a cavern lit by electric lights. From the cavern, he descends further to a series of rooms containing a breeding operation for endangered animals. Baz, who realizes the setup isn’t legit, emerges from the cave to find two men greeting him with shotguns. The pair walk Baz to a luxurious home nearby and throw him in a cage until the “master of the house,” Don Emile, returns. When he does, he suggests Baz join his crew and help breed endangered animals to transport to his private island—“his own personal Madagascar.” Baz rejects the offer. It’s back to the cage for him. He escapes his cell, but before leaving the house, he spies a computer screen displaying detailed information about him and his girlfriend, Jules. He finds additional files he thinks are suspicious before Emile’s toadies catch him. It’s round three in the cage (why don’t they just shoot him?). Baz’s escape attempts are heart-pounding. Hunted through the forest by former captors, the chase ends dramatically, and efforts to involve the cops prove futile. When the FBI gets involved, it appears that the documents on Emile’s computer are linked to several recent suspicious deaths. In retaliation for involving the FBI, Emile’s posse tries to kill Baz and Jules. And it won’t be the last time Baz is in the cross hairs. Threading through the action are soul-lifting descriptions of nature, such as the lusty scents of flowers and the beauty of glossy capped reishi and colorful turkey tail mushrooms. The relationship between Jules and Baz and their individual back stories are highlights, but caging Baz repeatedly grows tiresome, and the elaborateness of Emile’s plans strain credulity.

A gripping but convoluted The Most Dangerous Game meets The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Pub Date: March 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5144-5670-5

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2017

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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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