Next book


Vividly suggestive and filled with haunting images, though probably best appreciated by readers with a strong taste for the...

A missing persons case is merely the starting point for Scottish writer MacInnes’ mind-bending debut, which takes impersonation, infection, and simulation as its metaphors for the unstable nature of reality.

An unnamed police inspector is called out of retirement to investigate the disappearance of a man named Carlos from a family dinner at a restaurant in an unspecified city somewhere in Latin America. A series of early discoveries rapidly signals that things are not what they appear. The grieving mother the inspector thought he was interviewing turns out to be “employed by the mother to speak on her behalf.” The financial institution where Carlos worked—“in the process of a large and complex merger, leaving it for the moment without a name”—populates its office with pretend workers from a “performance agency” to make a good impression on prospective clients. “Trust me,” the agency’s director tells the inspector, “they appear much more convincing in the role of hard-working employees than such employees do themselves.” At first, it seems that all this play-acting screens a sinister mystery that could actually be solved: the corporation has been sued by activists claiming it has illegally occupied land belonging to indigenous peoples illegally resettled, and the inspector follows this trail into the country’s rain-forest interior. There, however, reality and the inspector come completely unglued—a development forecast by a chapter bluntly subtitled “Suspicions, Rumours, Links,” which offers multiple explanations for Carlos’ disappearance and many other puzzles while making it obvious that all explanations are provisional and suspect. MacInnes skillfully creates an atmosphere of lowering menace, aided by excerpts from an enigmatic anthropological text, Tribes of the Southern Interior, while deft satires of forensic analysis and ecotourism keep the tone from getting too misty. The inspector is the only person drawn with any depth, but characterization isn’t the point in a narrative that aims to unsettle and provoke.

Vividly suggestive and filled with haunting images, though probably best appreciated by readers with a strong taste for the avant-garde.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61219-685-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Next book


Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Next book


The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

Close Quickview