At times, the art-history lesson towers over the story, resulting in less tension and lower stakes than in Davis’ earlier...

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THE MASTERPIECE

New York’s Grand Central Terminal is more than just an architectural masterpiece or historic landmark for aspiring artist Clara Darden and newly divorced mother Virginia Clay. It's a platform for new beginnings at a time when each woman needs one most.

Davis (The Address, 2017, etc.) has carved out a literary niche by giving readers a peek into the private lives of those who live and work in New York’s most intriguing buildings, such as the Barbizon Hotel and the Dakota. In her third novel, she lets us into the world of two women employed at Grand Central during different eras. Twenty-five-year-old Clara arrives in New York in 1927 with great talent and even more ambition. Though she enjoys teaching at the art school tucked away in the train station, her true desire is to illustrate covers for Vogue. As she chases her dream, Clara juggles the attention of two suitors vying for her affection. The love that blossoms most, though, is her passion for art. Soon her life is derailed by tragedy. The circumstances around Clara’s disappearance remain a mystery until 1974, when Virginia, the now-dilapidated Grand Central Terminal’s newest information-desk clerk, starts exploring the long boarded-up art school. Like the train station, Virginia has seen better days. Her own story as a breast cancer survivor who’s been dumped by her rich husband closely parallels that of Grand Central Terminal, which is in danger of being shuttered in the name of progress. Virginia’s Mata Hari spy work and her college-age daughter’s photography skills play a key role in saving the station—and themselves.

At times, the art-history lesson towers over the story, resulting in less tension and lower stakes than in Davis’ earlier novels. Still, with richly drawn characters living in two storied eras, there is much to be enchanted by.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4295-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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