Leavenworth builds up tension gradually and deliberately, giving a sharp edge of eeriness to what could have been a...


Fictionalized autobiography about a Texas writer’s increasingly desperate attempts to save himself and his family from a psychotic stalker.

Leavenworth’s first novel begins with a true, bizarre, and terrifying incident that obsessed him for years: One night he answered the door of his Galveston home and met a perfect stranger who shot him in the chest with a .25 caliber pistol. He makes this the starting point of a story about Gordon O’Connor, a freelance journalist and family man, who struggles to unravel the mystery of a similar incident. Naturally shaken by the attack, Gordon flees with his wife and two sons to their beach house, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by a telephone call from his attacker. The police, at first, are not only unhelpful but downright suspicious, asking why Gordon never reported the earlier acts of vandalism (broken windows, etc.) that he now believes were committed by his stalker, and privately questioning whether Gordon is involved in some sort of hoax. But Gordon’s father-in-law, Pat Hayes, an ex-FBI agent with strong political connections, brings in some of his old friends to help sort out the case and they soon come up with—very little. The uncertainty of the situation makes Gordon increasingly paranoid, and he soon finds reasons to suspect everyone around him—from his brother-in-law Allen (a drug addict with a criminal record) to his father-in-law Pat (who concealed Allen’s criminal record from Gordon) right up to his wife Ana (whom Gordon begins to think is having an affair). As his life veers out of control, Gordon takes increasingly desperate measures to find security, but nothing succeeds—until he finally confronts his attacker face-to-face. By this time, his story has become as much a tale of psychological terror as criminal suspense.

Leavenworth builds up tension gradually and deliberately, giving a sharp edge of eeriness to what could have been a run-of-the-mill thriller.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-87565-269-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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