Though bumpy at times, this welcome addition to the crime-fiction genre features a refreshingly new type of heroine.


In this law enforcement procedural much in the vein of William J. Caunitz and Bill Pronzini, two FBI agents are assigned to protect a congressman who’s getting threatening letters.

Healy’s taut debut novel launches immediately into the action: FBI agents Alex Toles (a female) and Brian Fallon are assigned to investigate anonymous threatening letters being sent to New York “golden boy” Congressman Christopher O’Brien. When they get to New Rochelle, Fallon will pose as a Secret Service addition to the congressman’s staff, while Toles will act as a PR assistant to O’Brien’s strong-willed ex-wife, Cassidy, an English teacher, and thereby be in a good position to watch over both Cassidy and her and O’Brien’s 6-year-old son, Dylan. A sexual and romantic attraction sparks between idealistic Cassidy and love ’em–and–leave ’em Toles—fairly standard for the genre, except for the lesbian bent. The novel’s matter-of-fact approach to that point will exasperate some readers even as others might appreciate how candid it is. Both Toles and O’Brien have ties to the president; the congressman is “point person on several key pieces of legislation,” and the agent served under the president years ago when they were both stationed in Iraq. The central drama of the plot is well-handled, as it gradually becomes apparent that there are higher stakes at play than a relatively simple case of an obsessed stalker. But the writing can sometimes fall flat: Toles “was tall and muscular but still feminine in a way that was almost indescribable,” and she “had a presence that Cassidy could not describe.” More importantly, some of the technical details of the plot aren’t convincing, particularly since Toles pays more attention to Cassidy than she does to her assignment. The complex depictions of both Toles’ and Cassidy’s sexualities and personalities are refreshing, however, and the book’s climactic action scenes, though predictable, are well-paced.

Though bumpy at times, this welcome addition to the crime-fiction genre features a refreshingly new type of heroine.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615934181

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Bumbling Bard Creations

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2014

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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

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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