Mystery Thriller Book Reviews (page 1590)

A SAVAGE PLACE by Robert B. Parker
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 1, 1981

"Never less than readable, of course—but with little mystery, no deduction, few laughs, and a plot that seems like a Rockford Files discard, the best this will do is fill some time while waiting for the prime-Spenser comeback that's surely just around the corner."
If the last four Spenser mysteries have all been disappointing, at least they've been disappointing ha different ways: the terrorism clichés of The Judas Goat, the talky sexual politics of Looking for Rachel Wallace, the macho sentimentality of Early Autumn, and now the just-plain-dullness of this Hollywood/Mob case. Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 8, 1981

"One misses the lighter British touch here, perhaps (and the one Michael Gilbert piece is disappointing), but mystery readers who like a light five-minute read just before bed (or between bus stops) will find this a solid source of mild mini-pleasures."
A generous collection of "short-shorts"—crime stories whose brevity (2000 words or less) is often their major attraction; most of the plot twists here are familiar, but there's no time for the belaboring or padding that afflict so many of the longer mystery-magazine stories. Read full book review >

THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS by Ian McEwan
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1981

"So, once again, McEwan seems to be a huge talent constricted by the need to preach, philosophize, or work out private obsessions; and one can only hope that writing beguiling but disappointing essay-stories like this one will free him to write more wide-ranging, full-visioned fiction in the future."
The Ian McEwan paradox continues. Read full book review >
FREE FALL IN CRIMSON by John D. MacDonald
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 29, 1981

"Not quite as wham-bamtense as The Green Ripper, but all the necessary MacDonald ingredients are on the premises: fast pace; incredibly sordid doings which impinge on McGee's blue skies; a terrific windup; and a new love, Anne, who's probably good for at least one more book before she, too, like previous McGee ladies, bites the dust."
Ever-resilient Travis McGee, on the mend from yet another lost love, is asked by Ron Esterland to find out who killed his wealthy, cancer-ridden father Ellis two years ago. Read full book review >
TAR BABY by Toni Morrison
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 12, 1981

"Scouring contemporary insights—in prose as lithe and potent as vines in a rain forest."
Morrison's fine-tuned, high-strung characters this time—black and white Americans caught up together in a "wide and breezy" house on a Caribbean island—may lack the psychic wingspread of Sula or Milkman of Song of Solomon. Read full book review >

THE DEAN'S DECEMBER by Saul Bellow
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 7, 1981

"And every page of it commands the attention."
Rich yet dry and static, Bellow's somber new book (his first as Nobel laureate) is often more essay than novel: a wintery meditation on death—a death in the family, the death of American cities, the death of the planet—as filtered through the mind of Albert Corde, one of Bellow's least vivid or particularized alter egos. Read full book review >
INDEMNITY ONLY by Sara Paretsky
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 22, 1981

In Lamaar Ransome, Private Eye (p. 462), David Galloway played the idea of a super-hard-boiled female shamus strictly for laughs—not very successfully. Read full book review >
MARCO POLO, IF YOU CAN by William F. Buckley Jr.
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 8, 1981

"But even if this is perhaps the weakest (and most objectionable) of the series, it's still fast, sly, and literate: a rare, distinctive species within the lookalike thriller herd."
In Who's On First, Buckley inserted CIA-agent hero Blackford Oakes into real history (the US/Soviet space race) with the cleverest sort of almost-plausibility. Read full book review >
CONGO by Michael Crichton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 12, 1980

"Amy relationship, makes this—page for page—the classiest junk-food entertainment in quite some time."
Entertainer-educator Crichton, that clever devil, has done it again—by dressing up one of the oldest book/movie scenarios around with enough capsulized science, history, and geography to keep readers happily on their toes. Read full book review >
FIRESTARTER by Stephen King
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 29, 1980

"The built-in readership will not be disappointed."
An improvement over The Dead Zone, with King returning to his most tried-and-true blueprint. Read full book review >
THE KEY TO REBECCA by Ken Follett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 22, 1980

"Top-notch entertainment—shrewdly paced, cannily crafted."
If they liked it once, they'll love it twice. Read full book review >
THE SCARLET RUSE by John D. MacDonald
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 14, 1980

"Still, MacDonald is MacDonald, and that means top tension and fine detail—qualities that surely deserve hard-cover preservation."
First published in paperback in 1973, this is non-vintage but very drinkable MacDonald—as Travis McGee does his sidekick Meyer a favor by coming to the assistance of Hersh Felderman, an elderly Miami stamp dealer. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Katey Sagal
author of GRACE NOTES
April 10, 2017

In her memoir Grace Notes, actress and singer/songwriter Katey Sagal takes you through the highs and lows of her life, from the tragic deaths of her parents to her long years in the Los Angeles rock scene, from being diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-eight to getting her big break on the fledgling FOX network as the wise-cracking Peggy Bundy on the beloved sitcom Married…with Children. Sparse and poetic, Grace Notes is an emotionally riveting tale of struggle and success, both professional and personal: Sagal’s path to sobriety; the stillbirth of her first daughter, Ruby; motherhood; the experience of having her third daughter at age 52 with the help of a surrogate; and her lifelong passion for music. “While this book is sure to please the author’s many fans, its thoughtful, no-regrets honesty will no doubt also appeal to readers of Hollywood memoirs seeking substance that goes beyond gossip and name-dropping,” our critic writes. “A candid, reflective memoir.” View video >