A haunting story of guilt, denial and the possibility of demonic possession.

A GOOD AND HAPPY CHILD

A psychological thriller that keeps the reader on edge until the last page.

With occasional echoes of The Exorcist, this debut novel concerns the therapy of George Davies, who must come to terms with what he suffered as a child before he can function as a father. The 30-year-old Davies has a phobia that prevents him from holding his newborn son, thus threatening his previously happy marriage. Seeking the help of a psychiatrist, to whom this first-person narrative is addressed, George reveals that he had undergone therapy 19 years earlier, because of experiences that he has done his best to repress and would plainly prefer not to revisit. Yet he agrees to recount whatever he can remember in a series of notebooks, which constitute most of this novel’s chapters. He details the torment he endured after the death of his father, who had become ill on a humanitarian mission to Honduras. The death leaves the 11-year-old George not only fatherless but friendless, as his schoolmates turn on him with insinuations that there was some scandal surrounding his father. An apparition visits the boy, one that might be a psychological projection of George’s darker side, might be a demon, might be an imaginary (or not-so-imaginary) friend. The Friend (as George refers to him) pushes the boy toward revelations about not only his father’s death, but about his parents’ marriage. Though both academics, George’s parents held very different views on religion, with his father feeling that the devil was a palpably real presence who must be battled while his mother remained more of a modern rationalist, dismissing her husband’s beliefs as superstition. Whether the cause is psychological or spiritual, George as a boy becomes involved in a series of strange calamities that suggest he should be institutionalized. The adult George ultimately realizes that he can’t be a father until he resolves his boyhood mystery.

A haunting story of guilt, denial and the possibility of demonic possession.

Pub Date: May 22, 2007

ISBN: 0-307-35122-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Shaye Areheart/Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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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TRUE BETRAYALS

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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