A delectable supernatural noir that should be thrown back in one shot.

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TO KILL A SORCERER

From the Immortal Montero series , Vol. 1

This urban fantasy debut and series opener sees an immortal hunting a voodoo serial killer.

Sebastian Montero, an independently wealthy resident of Malibu, California, is immortal. He’s been alive for seven centuries, amassing riches, battling evil, and keeping his existence secret from society. The love of his long life is a vampire named Aliena who’s “lavishly feminine, Aphrodite’s dark reflection.” He owns BioLaw Industries, a research facility and forensics lab through which he helps the Los Angeles Police Department solve crimes. When 17-year-old Sherri Barlow is found at home hanging by her ankles, eviscerated, the immortal teams up with detectives Steven Hamilton and Alfred Gonzales to find the culprit. At a party at the Houdini Mansion, Sebastian is possessed by the spirit of a young woman, and he witnesses her mind regress “to that of a terrified child as she realizes she is going to die.” With a second victim, Jessica Patterson, the physical evidence of spices mixed into her blood and the eating of her heart points to a series of ritualistic killings. Sebastian’s BioLaw employees prove invaluable to the case, yet Hamilton loathes the idea that the paranormal might be involved—that the murderer is trying to become the Thief of Souls. In this decadent, addictive tale, Mongrain hard-boils the supernatural to perfection. His portrayal of Southern California, where “arid gusts ruffled the tops of the trees...bringing the thick smells of sage and chaparral,” should intoxicate readers as much as Sebastian’s playboy worship of Aliena, who feeds on the immortal (“She slowly licked the blood off” his finger “with her smooth, icy tongue”). Other facets of Sebastian’s unique state include the abilities to forgo food and sleep and to heal quickly. The author reveals these details not in passing but in careful flashbacks to his protagonist’s youth in the 13th century. Regarding sleep, “I had seen my parents in this otherworldly state...but I assumed it was something that happened to you when you were older.” Mongrain’s compact prose delivers a satisfyingly epic procedural while teasing further dark corners of his world.

A delectable supernatural noir that should be thrown back in one shot.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9974098-1-9

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Crescent Moon Books

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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