A deft, elegantly written tour de force.


Debut thriller about the looting of a Federal Reserve Bank by thieves both morally irredeemable and close to irresistible.

Start with Paul Eamon Devine, a well-respected 40-something Federal District Court judge in Chicago. Paulie is a judge with a grudge. He bitterly hates Redding Prindiville, the newly named president of the Chicago Fed, blaming Prindiville’s venomous double-dealing, in part at least, for the untimely death of Paulie's beloved wife. Revenge fantasies crowd and cloud his mind, until one day he conceives what he considers the perfect get-even scheme. He'll rob Prindiville's bank, not so much for the money (though $100-million is an intriguing extra) as for the humiliation that will accrue to an arrogant, pretentious, ice-hearted spawn of Iago. The idea takes root, flourishes, refuses to be dislodged, and Paulie realizes that almost despite himself he's allowed it to become richly detailed. But he knows he can't do the heist by himself; he needs three accomplices. Paulie begins the recruiting process with his oldest and best friend, unflappable, absolutely devoted hero-firefighter Dave Brody. Chastity Scott comes next: she's a guard at the Fed, and Paulie senses in this resourceful former army officer the kind of resolution against which panic will beat its wings fruitlessly. He's right about Chastity but fatally wrong about her husband Trimble, his third recruit and the team's weakest link. It's panicky Trimble who breaks ranks and allows smart, ambitious Tony Plymouth to get a whiff of the conspiracy. And because Plymouth is the most relentless police officer since Inspector Javert, the team is forced to dodge and weave defensively, contemplating counter-measures that once would—and certainly should— have appalled them. Zagel, himself once a Federal District Court judge, obviously knows his settings, and he’s also managed to create an engaging cast of scoundrels who deserve disapproval but probably won't get it.

A deft, elegantly written tour de force.

Pub Date: June 10, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-14891-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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