Solid characters steer a tantalizing mystery that’s unhurried but more than worth its while.

THE MOSQUITO BITES

A MYSTERY NOVEL

In this debut thriller, recent hires at a chemical company learn there may be a coverup regarding a new product’s nasty side effects.

Alex Gregory’s doctorate in statistics and minor in chemistry earn him his first “ ‘real’ job” at Sterling Chemicals, overseeing pesticide field testing and data analysis. Small-town Alex has barely settled into his New York City high-rise office when he gets a strange call from Cindy, the widow of Dr. Peter Hudson, whose fatal heart attack vacated the position Alex now holds. Cindy, trying to reach HR, inadvertently dials Peter’s number and reaches Alex, a complete stranger with whom she’d like to talk about her deceased husband. At a coffee shop, she claims Peter was too close to something at Sterling, and his death was actually murder. The new administrative assistant (and Alex’s potential romantic interest), Leslie Sherwood, hears of another former employee’s unusual exit—Dawn Manning simply stopped showing up at work. Meanwhile, Alex and Leslie are unnerved by a blue-shirted man who they’re fairly certain is following them. All of this likely stems from a pesticide in development, with a high kill rate for bugs but whose potential lethalness for humans Sterling may have intentionally buried. The tale’s measured pace deftly establishes characters (Alex and Leslie bond during the company’s dreary orientation) and plot (employees suspiciously avoid any discussion about Peter). Frazee’s details are sometimes excessive, like specifics on how to run an espresso machine. But the introduction of a slowly approaching menace is effective, namely the recurring man in the discernible blue shirt, who’s innocuous at first but decidedly more frightening once Sterling workers link him to probable murder. The mystery, too, is both alluring and appropriate in its white-collar relevance: a document inexplicably missing from a file signifies something sinister, while another one hidden in Alex’s office is pure intrigue. The ending, though a bit rushed, is realistic and left predominantly open.

Solid characters steer a tantalizing mystery that’s unhurried but more than worth its while.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63524-636-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

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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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