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SO YOU DON'T GET LOST IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Lyrical and portentous—and sometimes even “dreary and threatening,” as Daragne describes the voice at the other end of the...

Claustrophobic, moody, none-more-noir novel by French Nobel Prize winner Modiano (Suspended Sentences, 2014, etc.).

Phone calls don’t happen often in Jean Daragne’s world. He’s sealed himself off in a Paris apartment, shutters drawn always, but especially now during an unusually strong heat wave that “emphasized his loneliness.” Still, he goes out from time to time, losing his address book on one small excursion away from his study. Therein lies the rub, for now his phone is ringing, and on the other end is a voice insistently offering to return his contacts to him. But why does the caller want to know about a character who, we learn in painstakingly deliberate time, figures in a novel that Daragne wrote years earlier and had forgotten about? Indeed, Daragne has forgotten a great deal that Gilles Ottolini, small-time crook and erstwhile jockey, would like to remind him of, not least a murder that took place more than half a century earlier. Modiano writes tantalizingly, offering just a part of a detail here and another there, inviting the reader to participate in Daragne’s bewilderment (Why him? Why now?), the unfolding identities of the players (Is Ottolini a blackmailer? Is Chantal a femme fatale or a pawn? Just what is the relationship between Annie Astrand and the perhaps half-American Roger Vincent?), and the hallucinatory stroll into a past that constantly raises as many questions as it answers. Modiano blends elements of the procedural, the ghost story, and the existentialist novels of his youth to unpeel an extremely juicy onion at whose core, in the end, would seem to be a meditation on the nature of memory and storytelling alike: “Perhaps he had gathered together all these disparate elements in the hope that Daragne would react to one of them….”

Lyrical and portentous—and sometimes even “dreary and threatening,” as Daragne describes the voice at the other end of the line. Vintage Modiano, and a pleasure for fans of neonoir fiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-63506-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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