A crass use of a still-active murder case.



Foreign students in Italy: One winds up dead in this awkward riff on the notorious Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case.

Tabitha "Taz" Deacon is Irish, an exchange student from an English university. From the outset, Crouch (Men and Dogs, 2010, etc.) designates narrator Taz as the victim; she will eventually, in a nod to Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, address the reader from beyond the grave. Taz is just one more in a centuries-old line of Umbria’s sacrificial victims, whose profiles pop up throughout the novel. In Grifonia, the stand-in for Perugia, Taz takes a particular interest in Etruscan mythology. This is commendably high-minded, but Grifonia is swarming with students itching to get laid, and Taz is lonely, with limited sexual experience. Luckily, she runs into a trio of girls who make her the fourth member of their Brit Four Society. Their leader is Jenny, and her advice is succinct: You’re only young once, so don’t take just one lover—take 10. The girls have access to all the best parties because, it emerges, they’re a drug ring: procuring, storing and selling the stuff. The failure to convince us of this is the hole at the heart of the novel. Taz must also reckon with her American roomie, Claire, who's loyal, loudmouthed, needy and too beautiful for her own good. Not surprisingly, she scores even more often than Jenny, while Taz makes out with their Italian neighbor; rough trade but satisfying. Hookups and breakups: The novel’s movement is circular, with too many characters riding the sex and drug carousel, and lacks suspense. Taz’s murder only happens because she’s pressured to connive in the drug business; the heat is on, and she hides the product in an Etruscan burial chamber, a 21st century addition to its layers of history.

A crass use of a still-active murder case.

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-10036-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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