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WHO KILLED JERUSALEM?

A ROLLICKING LITERARY MURDER MYSTERY BASED ON WILLIAM BLAKE’S CHARACTERS & IDEAS UPDATED TO 1970S SAN FRANCISCO

A zany, inventive, and multilayered fever dream of murder and mayhem

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The killing of a prominent California poet spurs an eccentric insurance investigator into action in Brown’s offbeat mystery.

The action of the novel begins in 1977 with the sudden death of Ickey Jerusalem, a wealthy, well-known San Francisco–based artist and writer who’s found suffocated in a bathroom cubicle in the first-class cabin of a 747. On the same flight is lonely, divorced Dedalus “Ded” Smith, the adult son of a workaholic accountant and a pious mother, who’s tired of his stagnant career as an insurance claims adjuster in Buffalo, New York. While deplaning, Ded is met by an acquaintance of his: San Francisco Police Detective O’Nadir, who lets him tag along to inspect Ickey’s body. This draws Ded into the homicide case, which is initially ruled a suicide, but as Ded interrogates other passengers—mostly from Ickey’s business entourage—several clues are revealed and several suspects materialize. Among the latter are Ickey’s lawyer, Bacon Urizen; the flight purser; Beulah Vala, Ickey’s sightless, “spooky” personal assistant; plastic surgeon Bromion Ulro; and Ickey’s chauffeur. Most of these people were traveling together for a weeklong event commemorating the publication of Ickey’s poetry anthology. However, as Ded diligently probes the members of the group for hints of delinquency, the novel takes a surreal turn as some interviewees bizarrely metamorphose into insects, goats, and pink cows; in addition, references to Plato’s cave allegory, the philosophies of Socrates, and assorted parables swirl throughout the proceedings.

The story itself eventually morphs into a study of not only Jerusalem’s evocative poetry, but also such topics as existentialism and the cyclical nature of human connection. It’s also kooky and funny; one scene, in which Ded voyeuristically spies on some hotel guests in an adjoining room, is deliciously animated. Complicating the case is Ded’s attraction to Beulah, who’s named the beneficiary of her boss’s $20 million life insurance policy. The trouble multiplies as Brown’s suspenseful and wildly strange mystery unfolds, although the lengthy narrative loses some steam before the culprit is finally revealed. Still, the author’s fusion of colorful murder mystery and philosophical rumination dips into and out of reality with dreamlike ease. As the six-part tale evolves, the investigation into Ickey’s death goes on a number of tangents at a very leisurely pace, delving into such things as the “verbal decoration” of poetry, the “exaggerated importance” of poets, religion, and Ded’s disastrous marriage, as he sifts through the misfit murder suspects. The protagonist’s sleuthing keeps the pages turning, and his intense personality contributes to the narrative’s frenetic, free-falling tone. Overall, it makes for an entertaining and fascinating reading experience, as Ded is alluring, smart, funny, and has a mind full of colorful notions. Brown, a self-admitted “lifelong devotee of William Blake,” considers his novel a contemporary “riff” on that seminal poet’s oeuvre. Readers who enjoy ruminative mysteries that are as ornately embellished as museum tapestries will enjoy this creative amalgam of art, San Francisco history, and deep suspicion.

A zany, inventive, and multilayered fever dream of murder and mayhem

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Galbraith Literary Publishers Incorporated

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE LITTLE LIAR

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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