Sadomasochistic shivers about an incarnate Aztec goddess and the spell she casts over six North Carolina yuppies. Paperback horror novelist Watkins writes well in his first hardcover, but you practically have to sponge away the blood to make out the words. Watkins is especially good at setting the story's theme—that there can be a potent link between pain and erotic pleasure. Here, the pleasure is provided for Sam Leo, an epidemiologist, by the exotic Selinde Lorona, a remarkably beautiful and self-possessed young woman who gives him her phone number when they first meet, by chance—and who is, as we know from a prologue set in 1518, the fleshy form of the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl, the ``Snake Woman.'' Though Sam—hitherto faithful to his wife, Cheryl—is reluctant to call, his lust bests him and he meets Selinde at a restaurant where, in a scene of genuine sensual power, she introduces him to the seductive agony of hot chili peppers—a lesson intensified the next day as she bathes his body in burning pepper oil, which he loves. Meanwhile, Cheryl's pal Stephanie Dixon buys a mysterious kaleidoscope whose violent, pre-Colombian images enchant her and her husband, Art, into ever-rougher sex; and, at the same time, Sam becomes aware of a rash of stabbing-murders in which the victims submitted without a struggle—with the path of the killings leading to the coastal town where Sam, Cheryl, Stephanie, Art, and a third couple go for their annual vacation. There, in an isolated beachhouse, the kaleidoscope lures the couples into a crescendo of extravagant—and graphical detailed—acts of group sex, flagellation, piercing, and finally, stabbings...with Selinde hovering in the background, smiling her killer Mona Lisa smile. Worth a try, though it might be wise to call it quits after the hot chili peppers.

Pub Date: May 14, 1993

ISBN: 0-88184-929-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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