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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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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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