A densely packed story with plenty to savor for readers of any faith or none at all.

Seekers, Sinners & Simpletons

THE SPIRITUALITY PLAYERS

Lynch’s latest thriller (The 2020 Players, 2011, etc.) follows a series of people in the aftermath of two apparently isolated shootings.

In Tampa, Fla., a crazed man goes on a killing spree at a university campus. That same day, a doctor overseeing a new abortion clinic is murdered in a parking lot. As detectives and a reporter search for a connection between the two events, different people slowly come into the frame, including “Patch” Munson, an Alabama farmer who confesses to killing the doctor. Some of the story’s players even come together to find a missing woman during a hurricane. In this complex novel, religion is more than just a theme; it serves as a catalyst, connecting and repelling characters. For instance, Father Hanlon’s leaving the priesthood scares Patch into believing his confession will be revealed, which leads to Patch kidnapping Hanlon’s lover, Carol. It’s not just Christianity that seeps into the story: A blind scientist is an atheist, and Julianne, a computer saleswoman, considers herself to be a “seeker,” a spiritualist who follows no organized religion. Lynch doesn’t tip his hand by siding with any creed; instead, he criticizes and praises each one, frequently through debates between Julianne and “Hawk” Richter, the atheist. On the other hand, phonetic renderings of a Southern drawl from the likes of Patch and Rev. Billy Brand can be excessive and distracting, with cryptic words such as “decahded” (decided) and “reignahte” (reignite). The narrative also tends to be a bit wordy, typically in the form of superfluous adverbs—a professor can “visually see” the shooter, a touch is “paradoxically both soft and firm,” and a blind man “blindly” reaches. But Lynch also includes peculiar dualities for readers to ponder: a priest learns he has a son; a sermon inspires a shooting; and the death of the campus shooter isn’t considered murder, but killing a man who condones abortions is. Near the book’s end, as detectives, Hanlon and others desperately search for Carol, the hurricane casts a dark shadow that only intensifies the hunt.

A densely packed story with plenty to savor for readers of any faith or none at all.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615758220

Page Count: 424

Publisher: ERE Publications

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2013

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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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