Confused but cheerful little debut mystery with more shtick than gore.


Straining hard for Catskills-style humor at every turn, Annie Dowd (née Edelstein) is looking for her killer.

You see, Annie drowned mysteriously in the pool of a swanky Long Island mansion just when she was about to get up close and personal with a sexy fellow guest, an Englishman with a cute accent. Life—and death—are incredibly unfair. Just ask her mother: plump Mrs. Edelstein never approved of Annie marrying and then divorcing a certified goy anyway, especially not a globetrotting investigative journalist like Frank Dowd. Nonetheless, her heartrending wails when she learns of her daughter’s untimely demise are enough to break even the hard hearts of the Long Island cops who investigate the case. And so it’s on to likely suspects, beginning with Agnes Spurgeon, iron-willed, 70ish owner of the successful real estate firm where Annie worked as a broker. Annie’s colleagues include Harold Spurgeon, Agnes’s wussy son; Claudia Harmon, man-hungry, 30ish glamour-puss; handsome Matt Sterling, 20ish object of Claudia’s lust, and more. All gather round to speculate on who killed Annie and why. But there’s no better man to get to the bottom of things than fearless Frank, who undertakes an investigation out of lingering love for the dear departed, not noticing that Annie’s spirit has wound itself around his shoulders. She moves on to snuggle with her bereaved mother in the funeral limo, although Annie herself doesn’t mind being dead all that much. She’ll never have to worry about her weight again! Enter an obligatory troupe of Mafia goons to liven things up (well, a little). Annie interferes in her ethereal way to help out with the investigation. Turns out that Harold Spurgeon needed to cover some bad loans before Mommy found out, and a loan shark named Johnny Romano swam over somewhere in the middle of a rather murky plot . . . and Annie just got in the way.

Confused but cheerful little debut mystery with more shtick than gore.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7582-0260-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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