Carrua is right on the money when he tells Lamberti, “[y]ou want to eat up the criminals.” This illegal doctor’s righteous...

TRAITORS TO ALL

After three years in prison for euthanasia, Dr. Duca Lamberti (A Private Venus, 2014) returns to the practice of medicine in an equally unlawful and even more sordid way in this second volume of the noirish Milano Quartet, first published in Italy in 1966.

Lamberti’s medical license has never been restored, but that amounts to a positive recommendation for Silvano Solvere, who’s looking for someone to perform a hymenoplasty on a nice girl who wants her bridegroom to believe that she’s never had sex. The procedure goes smoothly enough, and Giovanna Marelli returns to her fiance, butcher Ulrico Brambilla, a virgin once more. Only two things bother Lamberti: the fact that Solvere invoked the name of attorney Turiddu Sompani as an introduction to Lamberti and the fact that he left behind a suitcase to be kept until called for. Sompani’s Fiat has just gone into a canal, the Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, with the lawyer and his cousin Adele Terrini, aka Adele the whore, inside. And the suitcase turns out to contain a beautifully engineered submachine gun. With the help of his friend Superintendant Luigi Carrua of the Milan Police, Lamberti decides to accompany Margherita, the young lioness sent to pick up the parcel, to her own drop-off. The trail will take them from private to ever-escalating public vice: a ring of drug and arms smugglers, a rash of deaths past and present, and a shameful betrayal reaching back to WWII.

Carrua is right on the money when he tells Lamberti, “[y]ou want to eat up the criminals.” This illegal doctor’s righteous fury comes to a head with the most admirable character in the cast facing a long prison term.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61219-336-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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