An unquestionably eerie baddie helps this uncomplicated but dark tale stand out.

A Stalker's Journey

A two-bit con artist focuses his aggression on a local paperboy and his friends in Lukegord’s (The Haunted Trail, 2014, etc.) thriller.

Curtis Ware, six years after serving time in juvie for a B&E in Iowa, now makes his home in Riverside, Maine. He runs a few scams, including cheating people in a carnival game and accepting donations for a disabled veterans’ taxi service that doesn’t actually do anything. But a small group of preteen hellions, including paperboy Ace Gordon, sends him in an entirely different direction. They pelt his car with snowballs and later sneak into his shack, unaware that he owns them both. Ace inadvertently leaves behind his newspaper bag, and he and his pals become Curtis’ mortal enemies in a series of increasingly dangerous encounters that span more than a decade. The author provides stellar coverage of both its villain and his young victims. The narrative, with its intermittent dialogue, often comes across as a chronicle relaying just the basic facts. However, Curtis’ actions are inherently creepy, and his behavior becomes more and more unsettling as the story progresses. For example, he shows up in costume at a Halloween party just to torment Ace, and he moves from chucking rocks at a football game and tapping on windows to chasing the kids with a buck knife. Lukegord provides readers with a modicum of sympathy for Curtis, who was raped and beaten back in juvenile detention. That said, it’s hard to side with a man who grows his fingernails long to use them as weapons, so readers are likely to root for Ace and company instead. The sparse dialogue exchanges can be stiff and sometimes recall Scooby-Doo: “I would’ve gotten away with everything had it not been for those nosy kids!” rants Curtis at one point. Some of the descriptions, too, are repetitive; the story repeatedly refers to Curtis as “disgruntled,” and his actions as “sketchy,” even in a newspaper article detailing one of his crimes. The ending, however, is fittingly disconcerting.

An unquestionably eerie baddie helps this uncomplicated but dark tale stand out.

Pub Date: June 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4909-3021-3

Page Count: 108

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

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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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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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