A thriller with abundant style, but a stronger edit might have better revealed it.

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HEADCASE

A murderer and a troubled cop are on the loose in Rosenberg’s debut police procedural/psychological thriller.

A serial killer known as “the Slasher” is murdering young women, and police detective Ash Aiken is on the case. He’s back on the job after the apparent disappearance of his own family, and his fellow cops lack faith in his sanity and efficacy—and for good reason, as he suffers from delusions. Meanwhile, psychiatrist Martine Caveau faces a moral dilemma: She suspects that her patient Louie Freckles is the Slasher, but due to professional ethics, she can’t discuss it with anyone. Freckles asks Caveau for an introduction to another patient, a troubled young woman whom he later kidnaps. Freckles also turns a chance meeting with a misogynistic college student into an opportunity to pin the murders on someone else. A game of cat and mouse between cops and killer ensues but ends too soon, leading to an unsurprising finale. Overall, however, Rosenberg largely manages to keep the complex plot cohesive. The action moves quickly, and the prose is confident, if sometimes overwritten. At its best, it musters brevity and grit, as when Aiken thinks about his missing family, musing that “the streets had eaten them.” Some characters’ interior monologues are also disturbing and creepy. However, the book might have benefited from removing some characters and situations, such as a street gang intent on exacting revenge, so that there might have been room to clarify the motivations of others more essential to the plot. Also, the Dickensian character names (“Lizzie Januss,” “Father Goldhush”) aren’t revelatory, and the device of having characters breaking into song, either in real life or in their imaginations, is superfluous.

A thriller with abundant style, but a stronger edit might have better revealed it.

Pub Date: April 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1483402291

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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