FOUR D

Confused people with hazy longings confront mysterious forces in this collection of four enigmatic stories.

  Morrison’s characters, often nameless and adrift in undefined settings without social referents, are the playthings of spectral entities that ensnare them in Kafka-esque conundrums. The anonymous protagonist of “Space” notices that people, objects and buildings have suddenly started disappearing and feels that “I myself am probably nobody anymore.” He’s not unhappy with the prospect, until the strange power behind the disappearances starts manipulating his relationships with his lover and best friend. In “Four Rooms,” a woman with multiple personality disorder awakens to find herself imprisoned in a labyrinth of rooms, and her search for a way out forces her to confront her devastating divorce and the bickering voices in her head. In “Guest,” an unnamed man in an unfamiliar city invites a beautiful woman into his hotel room; she seems to embody the bounty of nature—or the even greater promise of death. The collection’s most conventional tale, “The Principle of Luidgi,” features a callow young man who works hard to accumulate a satisfying job, good friends and a fiancée—only to decide that everything bores him, so he lets loose with a spree of sexual vandalism. Morrison’s storytelling has a dreamlike quality as it glides past logical non sequiturs and resonant symbolism—“She immediately opened her mouth broadly, and I saw her pull a pair out of it…‘See, I can bear fruit too’ ”—with deadpan equanimity. The foggy narratives and cryptic dialogue make the stories as puzzling and eerie—and sometimes as tedious—as dreams can be. Still, Morrison’s poetic imagery (“[b]ig, brown sweet cherries started to fall out of her dark eyes”) and off-kilter japes (“he was going to drop by the market to get some tomatoes…he’d buy them, put them in the kitchen and start hypnotizing them to make them talk”) give his surrealist prose considerable charm.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463792664

Page Count: 180

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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