French writer Echenoz brings a revised edition of his 1999 novel to American readers with an introduction by Lily Tuck. The...

I'M GONE

A mystery that doubles as a sly work of serious literature.

Felix Ferrer is a middle-aged art dealer who likes to follow routines until the day he leaves his wife with the words, “You can keep everything, but I’m gone.” It's January in Paris; Echenoz has set in motion a story that jumps back and forth in time and among Felix and several people close to him who will disappear in the course of revealing a mystery. Felix will travel above the Arctic Circle on an icebreaker and bring home a treasure trove of ancient artifacts to try to revitalize his business. When his hoard of carved mammoth tusks, musk-ox horn and caribou bone is stolen by a finely dressed, cold and calculating character named Baumgartner, Felix’s life begins a slide into financial fear and bypass surgery. Along the way, he will fall in and out of several trysts with women who may or may not be connected to the heist. Womanizing, like his heart problem, haunts his middle age. Echenoz writes beautiful descriptions and chooses satirical details that poke fun at institutions and poses in our daily lives, including literary convention. This is not your mother’s crime novel. All is set before us by a narrator who intrudes with personal comments and amusing asides: “[D]aily life is too boring,” or “I who am here to tell you that Hélène is highly desirable.” What transpires in the end is a circle of mystery, a romantic romp and, ultimately, a perfect ending for Felix—almost. The next January restarts the cycle as Felix says, “Just one drink and then I’m going.” Again.

French writer Echenoz brings a revised edition of his 1999 novel to American readers with an introduction by Lily Tuck. The translation by Polizzotti is elegant, emphasizing the book's wry humor with economical emphasis. This novel is a quick read and a true jewel.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-999-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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