MURDERS AT BISHOP by J. Lea Koretsky


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Koretsky, who gave readers three chilling tales of childhood trauma in Mandated Reporter (2015), offers up some darker, murkier, and more lethal stories.

What unites Koretsky’s current trio is that in all three, people undeniably get killed. Who they are, why they die, and who may have killed them are all open to interpretation. Koretsky’s prose is dense and cryptic, her settings mutable, and her characters apt to come and go with disorienting abruptness. “Bishop” begins in the Caribbean. Two spooks named Lewis and Jones are tracking Cinque D’Jannare, a provocateur who takes his name from the Cinque Terre but who also seems to hang around Tashkent, the Canary Islands, and Tiananmen Square. Three chapters later, Lewis disappears and a repatriated Jones is in Nevada, trying to find out who stole racks of commemorative coins from a post office in Inyokern County, killing the postmaster in the process. In “The Dead,” Ben Charly’s parents are murdered when he’s a child. Later, the aunt and uncle who raised him, along with several of their children, are killed by a nerve gas attack at their lake house. It’s not clear who the victims are in “Undifferentiated.” Bodies are reported discovered in a variety of locations, including “the crater lake beach of Minnesota,” four pits near Chicago, as well as Vermillion, Ohio, Vermillion, Indiana, and Vermillion, Pennsylvania. The victims, described variously as “Filipino and Caucasian,” “Cambodian or Rhodesian whites,” and “Chinese,” seem no more important to Koretsky than the hodgepodge of investigators who pop in and out of the narrative. Koretsky’s convoluted prose (“the wharf of a high-strung dimpled trowel, once only for pike staunch chore…”) doesn’t clarify much and occasionally (“the feast would substantiate several days”) reads as if it’s written by an autocorrect program.

Atmospheric, often incoherent, and not for the fainthearted.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-58790-431-8
Page count: 316pp
Publisher: Regent
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2018


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