SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION

Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest was one of the best novels of he 1962 season and certainly the most striking in many years. The frantic nostalgia of the half-Indian schizophrenic, his remembrances of the Great Wakonda Valley in Oregon, the anti-conflicts between the institutionalized over-sane and the institutional collectivists, these were portents of things to come. And they've come abundantly in Sometimes A Great Notion, a novel of mammoth size and proportion: eloquently gritty, uncompromisingly exhaustive, big, bold, unique and haunting. It begins when Lee Stamper returns home after 12 years in the East. Home to the Stamper logging camp to pull off "the greatest put-down in history." To avenge himself, his mother, his lost childhood, Lee Stamper, hipster, intellectual, plans cuckold his strong-willed, phlegmatic Captain Marvel of a brother, Hank. He also returns to a dying father and a union squabble between the town of Wakonda and the Stamper philosophy from time immemorial: NEVER GIVE A INCH. The conflict between the brothers brings Lee to the realization that to fully be is to recognize oneself as a will, as a force, whether the object of that force is a river, or a tree, or a community of factious men... There are those who will find Kesey's narrative-form distracting. The narrative is told by every character in the story, and there are many. He interpolates, parenthesizes, changes from voice to voice with heady abandon. He NEVER GIVES A INCH, because possibly it's the only way...Attention certainly.

Pub Date: June 27, 1964

ISBN: 0140045295

Page Count: 648

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1964

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Perhaps too much ingenuity for its own good. But except for Jeffery Deaver and Sophie Hannah, no one currently working the...

THE SENTENCE IS DEATH

Fired Scotland Yard detective Daniel Hawthorne bursts onto the scene of his unwilling collaborator and amanuensis, screenwriter/novelist Anthony, who seems to share all Horowitz’s (Forever and a Day, 2018, etc.) credentials, to tell him that the game’s afoot again.

The victim whose death requires Hawthorne’s attention this time is divorce attorney Richard Pryce, bashed to death in the comfort of his home with a wine bottle. The pricey vintage was a gift from Pryce’s client, well-to-do property developer Adrian Lockwood, on the occasion of his divorce from noted author Akira Anno, who reportedly celebrated in a restaurant only a few days ago by pouring a glass of wine over the head of her husband’s lawyer. Clearly she’s too good a suspect to be true, and she’s soon dislodged from the top spot by the news that Gregory Taylor, who’d long ago survived a cave-exploring accident together with Pryce that left their schoolmate Charles Richardson dead, has been struck and killed by a train at King’s Cross Station. What’s the significance of the number “182” painted on the crime scene’s wall and of the words (“What are you doing here? It’s a bit late”) with which Pryce greeted his murderer? The frustrated narrator (The Word Is Murder, 2018) can barely muster the energy to reflect on these clues because he’s so preoccupied with fending off the rudeness of Hawthorne, who pulls a long face if his sidekick says boo to the suspects they interview, and the more-than-rudeness of the Met’s DI Cara Grunshaw, who threatens Hawthorne with grievous bodily harm if he doesn’t pass on every scrap of intelligence he digs up. Readers are warned that the narrator’s fondest hope—“I like to be in control of my books”—will be trampled and that the Sherlock-ian solution he laboriously works out is only the first of many.

Perhaps too much ingenuity for its own good. But except for Jeffery Deaver and Sophie Hannah, no one currently working the field has anywhere near this much ingenuity to burn.

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-267683-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Tepid terrors along the way to a mildly surprising end.

JUST ONE LOOK

Suburban thriller from the prolific Coben (No Second Chance, 2002, etc.), about a perfect husband who disappears when a photo from the past shows up in the latest batch from the photomat.

Perfectly in love since their romantic meeting in France 15 years earlier, Jack and Grace Lawson are living the suburban dream: Windstar, Saab, daughter, son. He makes lots of money, she makes lots of art. There is a teeny flaw. Grace limps. It’s the scar she bears from the trauma she endured before the trip to France. There was this rock concert. Shots were fired. Panic. Deaths. Heroism. Cowardice. Badly mangled Grace made it out of a coma with a week or two of memory gone and a healthy dislike of big crowds. Suddenly the superperfect life she has built from the ruins has gone off the rails. Tucked in among a set of newly developed photos is a snap taken sometime in the ’80s. It shows a group of young people, possibly hip for the decade, and one of the lads, while hairier and callower, is clearly Jack. The insertion could only have been at the hands of the slacker in the Kodak kiosk, but he’s disappeared. And, upon viewing the photo, so has Jack, leaving Grace to ask that old reliable story-starting question: “Just who is this man I thought I knew?” Answers must be found quickly, for handsome Jack has been captured by a cold-blooded, sadistic, Korean killer and lies senseless in the boot of the stolen family minivan. Detective assistance comes from a rogue District Attorney, a wacky girlfriend, a lovelorn neighbor, a tough Jewish cop with a hole in his heart where his wife used to be, a shadowy, powerful mob guy whose son died at the rock concert, and possibly from Jimmy X, the rocker whose concert seems to have started the present subdivisional mayhem all those years ago.

Tepid terrors along the way to a mildly surprising end.

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-525-94791-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2004

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