A thoughtful, measured tone gives this tale of murder a sense of depth and reach, like a good poem.

INVISIBLE EDEN

A STORY OF LOVE AND MURDER ON CAPE COD

Chilling, edgy backgrounder on the high-profile 2002 murder of a fashion journalist.

It was a nasty piece of work: 36 hours passed before a former lover entered Christa Worthington’s Cape Cod home and found her corpse, with her toddler daughter nursing at her breast. Such a lurid case has already attracted lots of coverage, but Flook applies to the tale a fine hand for characterization, whether spun out or pinched to a paragraph. The “piebald gymkhana” of suspects attains a prismatic quality, though sympathy is kept at arm’s length. The author doesn’t just scan those within the “orbit of opportunity” for killing Worthington, but all the denizens of Truro, Massachusetts, from the swamp Yankees to the parvenus with their trophy homes. Often mythologized as an artists’ colony, Truro is really “Nowheresville,” claims crotchety poet and resident Alan Dugan, with its “wannabe artists, dilettantes, losers, pirates and profiteers, eccentrics and misfits.” And novelist/memoirist Flook (My Sister Life, 1998, etc.), too: she lives in the town and quietly, appealingly insinuates herself into the story. Her clinically precise portrait limns Worthington as a gifted writer whose unusual style—part alchemy, part anthropology—set her apart in the world of “icy fashionistas and wage-war garmentos.” But she was also a house-wrecker and a stalker; as the district attorney covering the case said, “The more we look at her, the uglier she gets.” Flook remains, at least on the surface, nonjudgmental; she allows the characters to hang—or exonerate—themselves. She’s also very good on Truro’s landscape, the remoteness that’s kept the town charmed and protected, though it has its share of notorious history. Even her conjectures and color commentary have the grace of authority.

A thoughtful, measured tone gives this tale of murder a sense of depth and reach, like a good poem.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-1374-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

At times slow-going, but the riveting period detail and dramatic flair eventually render this tale an animated history...

THUNDERSTRUCK

A murder that transfixed the world and the invention that made possible the chase for its perpetrator combine in this fitfully thrilling real-life mystery.

Using the same formula that propelled Devil in the White City (2003), Larson pairs the story of a groundbreaking advance with a pulpy murder drama to limn the sociological particulars of its pre-WWI setting. While White City featured the Chicago World’s Fair and America’s first serial killer, this combines the fascinating case of Dr. Hawley Crippen with the much less gripping tale of Guglielmo Marconi’s invention of radio. (Larson draws out the twin narratives for a long while before showing how they intersect.) Undeniably brilliant, Marconi came to fame at a young age, during a time when scientific discoveries held mass appeal and were demonstrated before awed crowds with circus-like theatricality. Marconi’s radio sets, with their accompanying explosions of light and noise, were tailor-made for such showcases. By the early-20th century, however, the Italian was fighting with rival wireless companies to maintain his competitive edge. The event that would bring his invention back into the limelight was the first great crime story of the century. A mild-mannered doctor from Michigan who had married a tempestuously demanding actress and moved to London, Crippen became the eye of a media storm in 1910 when, after his wife’s “disappearance” (he had buried her body in the basement), he set off with a younger woman on an ocean-liner bound for America. The ship’s captain, who soon discerned the couple’s identity, updated Scotland Yard (and the world) on the ship’s progress—by wireless. The chase that ends this story makes up for some tedious early stretches regarding Marconi’s business struggles.

At times slow-going, but the riveting period detail and dramatic flair eventually render this tale an animated history lesson.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 1-4000-8066-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Smart hopes that sharing her story might help heal the scars of others, though the book is focused on what she suffered...

MY STORY

The inspirational and ultimately redemptive story of a teenage girl’s descent into hell, framed as a parable of faith.

The disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002 made national headlines, turning an entire country into a search party; it seemed like something of a miracle when she reappeared, rescued almost by happenstance, nine months later. As the author suggests, it was something of a mystery that her ordeal lasted that long, since there were many times when she was close to being discovered. Her captors, a self-proclaimed religious prophet whose sacraments included alcohol, pornography and promiscuous sex, and his wife and accomplice, jealous of this “second wife” he had taken, weren’t exactly criminal masterminds. In fact, his master plan was for similar kidnappings to give him seven wives in all, though Elizabeth’s abduction was the only successful one. She didn’t write her account for another nine years, at which point she had a more mature perspective on the ordeal, and with what one suspects was considerable assistance from co-author Stewart, who helps frame her story and fill in some gaps. Though the account thankfully spares readers the graphic details, Smart tells of the abuse and degradation she suffered, of the fear for her family’s safety that kept her from escaping and of the faith that fueled her determination to survive. “Anyone who suggests that I became a victim of Stockholm syndrome by developing any feelings of sympathy for my captors simply has no idea what was going on inside my head,” she writes. “I never once—not for a single moment—developed a shred of affection or empathy for either of them….The only thing there ever was was fear.”

Smart hopes that sharing her story might help heal the scars of others, though the book is focused on what she suffered rather than how she recovered.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-04015-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more