CITY OF GLASS

In this fast-paced thriller, poet and essayist Auster transforms a conventional detective story into a post-modern theoretical diversion, without sacrificing intrigue or readability. The first volume of his New York Trilogy, it represents the latest entry in this small press's New American Fiction Series. A wrong number in the middle of the night ensnares Daniel Quinn (once a serious poet and essayist, now the pseudonymous author of pulp mysteries) into a case far more bizarre than any he's invented in his fictions. Peter Stillman's father, an insane scholar who kept his son in a room for nine years, is soon to be released from the sanitarium. Quinn's assignment is simple: Keep the old man away from his partly rehabilitated son. But it's not really Quinn's job, nor is it that easy. The caller seeks the Paul Auster Agency, even though, as we later learn, Paul Auster is not a detective but a young writer who strongly resembles the Paul Auster who wrote this book. And this is just one of the multilayered ironies girding this splendid invention. Ultimately, as the obsessed Quinn, impersonating Auster, descends into madness—he retreats into a room once occupied by the mysterious Stillman fils—we understand the conceit which links sleuth and scribe in Auster's playful imagination. Both search for the idea which will make sense of random events and their ambiguous consequences. Has Quinn followed the right man? Is there a meaningful pattern to the man's daily walks? Such questions mislead, for as Auster writes, "the question is the story itself, and whether or not it means something is not for the story to tell." This self-reflexive detective yarn begins with the standard questions (just the facts, ma'am) and soon throws everything into doubt, including its authorship. Rather heady stuff for mystery fans, but a delight for students of experimental fiction.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1985

ISBN: 0140097317

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sun & Moon

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on...

MYSTIC RIVER

After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.

Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.

An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16316-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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