A transplanted suburbanite revels in the delights of her new urban residence and experiences.

“Some people see cities as cold capitals of commerce lacking in humor or humanity.” This observation of the newly transplanted author is certainly not a sentiment that she shares. Durack’s plunge into an environment that many have fled over the past few decades is purposeful and committed. Her thoughts represent a salute to what generally makes a city great, and what makes the city of Cincinnati even greater. She “celebrate[s] the joy and the richness of the community that welcomed” her with more than 50 short stories on Cincinnati’s art, architecture, history, food, sports, festivals, performances and all the other amenities that contribute to the invigorating city feel. That feel is reinforced by the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Durack’s descriptive writing of places, events and personal interactions with residents. The author’s unpretentious, quaint observations range from Frisbee players and the marvels of old elevators to the perhaps more complex analysis on how and where Henry Ford got his ideas for assembly-line auto manufacturing. This latter example is one of a few that sometimes contrast sharply with other, more mundane reflections. This contrast sometimes makes it seem like the author could not decide on the simplicity of a 130-page pocket book or a more thoughtful examination of a culturally rich city. The chapter on surveying, for example, required a trip to the library for research, while the advice on leaving grilling to the pros is more suitable for an Internet forum. There are also enough quotes in some of the chapters to merit citations (or at least a short bibliography). The author’s attitude, however, shines on its consistent tenor of the historical grandeur of institution over individual, as in depictions of the vaunted city hall or the conviction that old, large clocks were telling us that accurate time “was less certain and more precious.” That sentiment alone might capture the soul of local readers remembering a different time in history. A breezy, cheerful collection that will appeal to locals, gentrification dwellers and those with a cursory historical interest in the city of Cincinnati.  


Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.


Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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