In an ugly, menacing psycho-thriller set in Depression-era New Zealand, a man returns to his small town to repay the bullies who sent him fleeing 13 years before. Herbert Muskie appears suddenly in Loomis, with overflowing pockets, wild tales of rum-running in the US, and a new wife and stepdaughter. His outward geniality conceals a sadistic talent for cutting through people's defenses, and he quickly proves himself a master of both violent and subtle intimidation. Only a few months earlier, Colin Potter was terrorized into helping Muskie rob his senile mother of her life savings, but he doesn't dare tell his parents, who were among the man's tormentors years before. Gee (The Champion, 1993, etc.) tightens the screws expertly: Strong, cunning, and unbalanced, Muskie is thoroughly frightening and increasingly given to bursts of brutal irrationality. When he snatches his stepdaughter and Colin as hostages after police discover that he's been burglarizing houses in nearby Auckland, even hardened Cormier readers will stop breathing. Colin shows steel beneath his rabbity exterior, ``helping'' Muskie to his doom over a deep gorge, but even in death the fat man has his revenge, leaving nearly everyone he's touched damaged in some way. Sobering and scary. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-689-81182-9

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997


The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes...

In a riveting novel from Myers (At Her Majesty’s Request, 1999, etc.), a teenager who dreams of being a filmmaker writes the story of his trial for felony murder in the form of a movie script, with journal entries after each day’s action.

Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery and murder of a drug store owner. As he goes through his trial, returning each night to a prison where most nights he can hear other inmates being beaten and raped, he reviews the events leading to this point in his life. Although Steve is eventually acquitted, Myers leaves it up to readers to decide for themselves on his protagonist’s guilt or innocence.

The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve’s terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers’s point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a “positive moral decision” was not made. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-028077-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999


A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end.

A teenager runs away to Seattle, hoping to locate her missing sister.

Fifteen-year-old Eleanor idolizes her older sister, Sam, despite their being complete opposites: Sam is outgoing and wild, while socially awkward Eleanor is known as Little Miss Perfect, always doing the right and safe thing. After Sam runs away from home, the only communication she has with Eleanor are three postcards sent from Seattle. Eleanor decides to trace her 18-year-old sister’s footsteps, leaving her messages and hopping on a bus to find her. But when Sam doesn’t meet her at the bus depot, Eleanor, who has no real plan, has to learn how to survive on her own while searching the city for her sister. While the close bond between the girls is well depicted through flashbacks, the reveal of an important secret ultimately feels anticlimactic. A major plot point relies too heavily on chance and coincidence to be fully believable. While the color scheme, cityscapes, and background illustrations are atmospheric, the manga-inspired drawing style comes across as dated and flat. The depiction of the fabricated stories Eleanor tells is intriguing, as are the themes of friendship, living in the moment, and maintaining hope; unfortunately, none are thematically strong enough to resonate. The emotional impact of Eleanor’s experiences is diluted by her at times humorous narration. Eleanor and the main cast read as White.

A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end. (Graphic novel. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-50023-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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