A lively but campy murder mystery.

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SPENT IDENTITY

From the Annalisse series , Vol. 2

In this sequel, a woman’s beloved aunt disappears and clues surface that suggest foul play.

Annalisse Drury is tormented by the uncertainty of her relationship with Alec Zavos, a fabulously wealthy heir to his family’s business empire, and discontented with life in Manhattan and its “cold streets crowded with absentminded New Yorkers fascinated by their phones.” She escapes “Zombieland” for the familiar solace of Walker Farm, a bucolic redoubt in upstate New York where her Aunt Kate lives. But instead of serenity, Annalisse encounters something more discomfiting: Kate’s son, Jeremy, an unsavory character, has decided to sell the farm, and his mother is legally powerless to stop him. Then Kate’s hired hand, Ethan Fawdray, finds a dead man in the barn, a decomposed body with an identification card that belongs to Thomas Taylor, a name that elicits an astonished gasp from Kate, though she refuses to disclose what it means to her. Later, Kate suddenly vanishes, leaving behind evidence that she “fought off an assailant.” Annalisse is beside herself with worry, and Alec calls private investigator Bill Drake to track down Kate. Bell’s (Stolen Obsession, 2018) second installment of the Annalisse series isn’t a stand-alone novel—the plot makes repeated references to its predecessor and even ends with a hint of yet another volume. Those considering reading this book should read the preceding work first. The plot is busy with layers of drama—Alec is being blackmailed by Karl Brooks, his ex-wife’s paramour, a money-hungry drug dealer. The author has a keen eye for the corrosive effects of long-standing secrets, especially those that haunt families. In addition, the story marches to its conclusion at an indefatigable pace, breathlessly action-packed. But the tale also has a soap-operatic quality to it, delivering histrionic melodrama nearly to the point of inadvertent comedy and stark implausibility. For those readers in search of theatrical hyperbole, Bell delivers with an easily companionable style. 

A lively but campy murder mystery.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9995394-2-2

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Ewephoric

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2020

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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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