The setting is authentic (Morris knows his river) but the author has a long way to go before finding his voice.

JACOB JUMP

Two Southern white guys, their lives a shambles, take a trip downriver only to find madness and death.

Will Rhind and Thom Verdery are old friends in their mid-30s, natives of Augusta, Georgia. Rhind works for the local TV station; his drinking problem has caused his wife to leave, their small child in tow. Verdery, suspected of sexual harassment of a female student, has just been let go by the prep school where he taught theater, and he's broken up with his girlfriend in the process. The men have decided, as an escape perhaps, to row their longboat to Savannah. They’re soon joined by Rhind’s father, Dan, who's brought his own boat; he too is estranged from his wife. The booze flows freely. Ill-fated Georgians navigating a river bring to mind James Dickey’s Deliverance, but Morris’ first novel has little in common with that action-packed bestseller, though there are two violent encounters. The first occurs when Alice Mays, a clearly insane old woman, accuses the men of trespassing on her humble riverfront home. Alice is cradling a shotgun; the guys are naked after swimming. The tension slackens during an interminable back and forth which is halted by a peacemaking deputy. A second encounter ends with Verdery knocking Alice unconscious as he roars “Goddam these countrified people.” He’s a hothead, feeling the gin, and Rhind is too drunk to row. It’s no fun watching these clowns flub the simplest tasks, like making phone calls, but a theme does emerge from the confusion: coping with life is a solitary business.

The setting is authentic (Morris knows his river) but the author has a long way to go before finding his voice.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61117-543-1

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Univ. of South Carolina

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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DEATH ON THE NILE

A HERCULE POIROT MYSTERY (HERCULE POIROT MYSTERIES)

One of her best. Poirot, again on vacation, falls foul of a murder on board a Nile river steamer, followed by two successive murders, obviously connected. A sophisticated group, an ingenious plot, clever deduction, swift-paced narrative. A little romance on the side lends glamour. First rate entertainment.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 1938

ISBN: 0062073559

Page Count: 354

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1938

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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