Elementary prose studded with innumerable clichés. But the convoluted storyline of this, Johansen’s sixtieth novel (Final...


A forensic sculptor still searches for her murdered daughter’s face in every skull she reconstructs.

Like any grieving mother, Eve Duncan hopes for closure—and she’s overcome when it turns out that a child’s skeleton found in the woods wasn’t Bonnie’s after all. Her true love Joe, an Atlanta police detective, meant well when he led her to believe otherwise; and Eve had found solace in tending the little grave and headstone until after its desecration by an unknown vandal—and after a laboratory DNA report, sent anonymously. Eve is compelled to leave Joe and her 12-year-old adopted daughter Jane to mull things over—and take an unusual assignment in Louisiana: Senator Kendal Melton wants some human remains reconstructed. Could they belong to his former rival for the Senate, Harold Bently, long missing and presumed dead? Eve is escorted to an old plantation house and left alone with cook Marie Letaux. Marie seems friendly enough—but could the Cajun food she prepares be . . . poisoned? Eve begins to feel sick as she enters the spooky old church in Baton Rouge where the senator wants her to work. Say, what’s in that huge coffin? Could it be the corpse of Etienne, unwary brother of the villainous Jules Herbert, who’s mixed up in all this somehow? Eve blacks out, and here’s where the plot sickens: various members of a mysterious group known as the Cabal may be planning to blow up a gigantic dam in China, drowning millions of innocents, all because—it seems—a renegade environmentalist may be intent on promoting his own fuel-cell development program. But why such slaughter? And is Harold Bently really dead or just pretending? Fortunately for Eve, her lost child’s ghost perches on the windowsill now and then to help answer these and other burning questions.

Elementary prose studded with innumerable clichés. But the convoluted storyline of this, Johansen’s sixtieth novel (Final Target, 2001, etc.), is sure to please faithful fans.

Pub Date: March 26, 2002

ISBN: 0-553-80097-3

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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