An undeniably fun tale with a protagonist who can apparently handle anything despite the fact that the mystery is often put...

Sherlock Mars

FINE DINING, VIRTUAL REALITY, AND MURDER

A bistro owner and amateur sleuth tries solving the murder of a fellow restaurateur in Kingon’s (Chocolate Chocolate Moons, 2012) zany sci-fi mystery.

Molly’s Bistro, owned by Earthling Molly Marbles, is doing well in Mars’ capital of New Chicago. Virtual Vittles, a virtual-reality restaurant, has opened nearby, but when its dining experience leaves customers hungry, they make a beeline for Molly’s place. She and Virtual Vittles owner Rick Frances eventually collaborate on a dining event; unfortunately, it ends with Rick found dead at Molly’s Bistro. Molly, who previously helped detectives solve a different mystery, works the murder case, slyly interrogating her staff and others who attended the event. But she’s already got a lot on her plate, including her pop-star daughter Becky’s upcoming wedding as well as the recent escape of the Cereal Serial Killer, which may have been incited by the bistro’s planned cereal-inspired party. As Molly makes headway in her investigation, someone slips her a threatening note warning her off the case. She later heads to Mercury in search of a poison that may have been the murder weapon and exposes secret affairs and other possible motives. The novel’s setting is indisputably unorthodox for a detective tale. Several descriptions compare Mars and Earth, noting, for example, that one still needs sunglasses on the red planet, even if the sun is further away. Likewise, there are silly but generally amusing plays on familiar names, such as that of Becky’s fiance, Burton Ernie. However, Molly’s personal life often overshadows the mystery plotline, which skimps on details; a bloodless death, for example, is determined to be a murder prior to any autopsy. The overall timeline is also confusing; at one point, for instance, Molly says the murder was “last week” despite the fact that several weeks have passed. Kingon adds some depth to the story, though, when Molly’s best friend Jersey’s android husband, Trenton, encounters discrimination. What exactly a “human android” is, however, remains unclear, as does the process that transforms humans into androids. The main mystery is resolved in the end, but readers may find themselves more invested in seeing whether Molly will be able to pull off the wedding ceremony.

An undeniably fun tale with a protagonist who can apparently handle anything despite the fact that the mystery is often put on the back burner.

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-911486-00-8

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Guardbridge Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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