A lighthearted and pleasant read for mystery and animal aficionados.


Magazine journalist Kristy Farrell returns in another conservation-conscious detective story by Schmitt (Monkey Business, 2017).

In this sequel, Kristy becomes personally involved in an investigation after being approached by Katie Chandler, her daughter’s best friend. It turns out that Katie’s boyfriend, Sam Wong, has disappeared, and shortly afterward, her co-worker Jack Patterson is found drowned in a local inlet. Katie is also the executor of her grandmother’s will, which left $12 million to be divided among three charities. She’s resolved to donate $6 million to the Clam Cove Aquarium, where she works as a sea-lion trainer. If the aquarium can raise enough money to purchase an adjacent plot of land, they’ll be able to build a rehab center for marine mammals and a research camp. However, a powerful land developer, which happens to be Sam’s employer, is also interested in the property. The local community is divided over the project. When another body is discovered in the aquarium’s sea-snake tank, Kristy becomes more determined than ever to find the murderer. As she investigates, tensions build in her personal life; serious budget cuts loom at her magazine employer, and her husband’s veterinary practice is struggling, due to new competition. And when Kristy’s mother announces her engagement to a mysterious investor, the reporter harbors suspicions about the man’s intentions. Over the course of this latest series installment, Schmitt manages to neatly balance a considerable array of plotlines, while also employing a sufficient amount of misdirection to keep the murderer’s identity uncertain. She provides enough evidence to make events seem reasonably plausible, and her protagonist excels at following every line of logic to its conclusion. The wildlife motif works well, providing a distinctive backdrop to the mystery and a ready supply of aquatic facts. This case also introduces plenty of new characters as others return, inclusing the irascible and incompetent Detective Steve Wolfe.

A lighthearted and pleasant read for mystery and animal aficionados.

Pub Date: May 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948338-79-0

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Encircle Publications, LLC

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2019

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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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