by Irvine Welsh ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 2008
A good man in a very bad world, Lennox deserves a thematically richer novel.
Dime-store psychology and half-baked moralizing undermine this character-driven police procedural.
The fiction of Scotland’s Welsh has traveled quite a distance from Trainspotting, as he returns to a character introduced in Filth (1998), a novel with a generic title similar to this one’s. A sidekick in that book, Scottish DI Ray Lennox, takes center stage here. The investigation of a child rape and murder has left Lennox unhinged, so he is ordered to take recuperative leave with his fiancée, Trudi, in Miami. Obviously his superiors haven’t read enough Florida crime fiction to realize that this cesspool isn’t likely to facilitate Lennox’s recovery. First he decides to discontinue the anti-depressants that have barely been keeping him afloat, and to return to the self-medication of alcohol and illicit drugs. Thus he finds himself increasingly at odds with Trudi, who is obsessed with planning the perfect wedding while Lennox’s psyche continues to spiral downward. What was intended as a romantic getaway to take Lennox far from his troubles instead leads to a binge in which (what a coincidence!) he stumbles upon an American pedophile ring. Against considerable odds (and risking his crumbling relationship with Trudi in the process), he attempts to rescue a young girl in Florida as some sort of compensation for his failure to do the same in Scotland. A clever stylistic strategy is to alternate conventional, third-person, present-tense narration with second-person past-tense flashbacks (thus allowing the reader to enter Lennox’s mind as “you”). Yet the novel is weakest when Welsh tries to provide the underpinnings for his protagonist’s obsession in a boyhood trauma and dysfunctional family. Though Lennox is “depressed, lonely, and hung-over in a strange place, without his medication and possibly more vulnerable than he’d ever been in his life,” he’s ultimately the closest thing to a hero that the novelist has allowed himself to create.A good man in a very bad world, Lennox deserves a thematically richer novel.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2008
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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