A gloomy, sometimes-alarming tale of alcoholism, one that questions whether a drunk can blame the drink or his own...

AFTER THE RACE

Jones’ somber first novel is the story of a man whose alcoholism weighs on his own life and the lives of his family, particularly his teenage son.

Working as an electrician, Wayne Reed was knocked off a ladder by a live wire—an 18-foot drop that left him with a mangled foot. While his wife, Emily, is stationed in Guam with the Navy, Wayne largely ignores his 15-year-old son, Charles, and invests the family’s meager finances in an excess of booze. Not much changes when Emily returns, until the tire company, whose negligence resulted in Wayne’s injury, avoids further legal troubles by offering the Reeds nearly $1.7 million. Wayne talks Emily into moving to an apple orchard, where they can live and run the business. But Wayne—still hung up on Cassandra, with whom he had an affair years ago—has no plans on saving his family. Meanwhile, Charles, an intelligent young man and accomplished runner, joins the high school track team, but his father’s continued drinking threatens to squander any hope of happiness for the Reed family. Jones’ bleak novel is almost completely devoid of comedic or lighthearted moments. But it’s also engrossing. Wayne’s behavior is self-obsessive, and seemingly everything he does, from reuniting with Cassandra to spending much of his time at a bar, adversely affects everyone he knows. Split into four parts, the book mostly covers about two years in the early 1990s, but the most illuminating section is Part 2, a flashback to several months between 1986 and 1987, when Wayne’s assignment for the Army Reserves was more an extended affair with Cassandra. It’s a comprehensive display of his disinterest in marriage as well as the physical and emotional mistreatment of Charles; for instance, Wayne insists he run a 10K so the father can slyly introduce his son to his mistress. The latter half of the novel devotes perhaps too much to Wayne, who does little more than drink while boasting about his Porsche and fruitlessly attempting to repair his relationship with Cassandra. Charles, on the other hand, gradually turns into the more compelling of the two; he begins his own downward spiral when his anger surfaces, thanks in part to an incident that puts him in the hospital and sidelines his running. From there, a disturbing concept arises: Charles may someday become the same man he fears and despises.

A gloomy, sometimes-alarming tale of alcoholism, one that questions whether a drunk can blame the drink or his own wickedness.

Pub Date: April 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988886421

Page Count: 440

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more