SATAN'S FIRE

The year is 1303, and England's King Edward is near bankruptcy as he prepares for another attempt to conquer Scotland. He's eyeing the assets of the Knights Templar—beaten back in their efforts to take the Holy Land but rich in property and money. Several of the Knights have arrived in York from France to reactivate the order's manor in Framlingham. (A member of the order has recently been implicated in a plot to kill the King of France.) In addition, a note has been found at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, threatening King Edward. His longtime troubleshooter Sir Hugh Corbett (The Song of a Dark Angel, 1995, etc.) reluctantly agrees to investigate the threats as well as the macabre events at Framlingham, where a deadly fire has taken the lives of several Knights Templar, including the devout Sir Guido Reverchien, the wise old librarian Brother Odo, and young pastry chef Peterkin. As if that weren't enough, an attempt to kill King Edward is made as he rides in pageantry through York, and Corbett himself barely escapes death at the hands of an assassin later found burned to death in his tavern room. The business of counterfeit coins being circulated and rumors of sodomy among the Templars seem like minor matters by comparison, but in the end they too are resolved, as Corbett, faithful Ranulf at his side, finds a ruthless killer, leaves the King's service, and joyfully heads for reunion with beloved wife Maeve. Almost impossibly dense with characters, intrigue, and incident, embellished by the sights, sounds, and smells of York and environs, described in overpowering detail: This ninth in the series is a chronicle too rich for its own good.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14729-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Useful but disappointingly commonplace tips.

A SHORT GUIDE TO A LONG LIFE

In a follow-up to The End of Illness (2012), which explored how technological advances will transform medicine, Agus (Medicine and Engineering/Univ. of Southern California) restates time-tested but too often overlooked principles for healthy living.

The author outlines simple measures that average citizens can take to live healthier lives and extend their life spans by taking advantage of modern technology to develop personalized records. These would include a list of medical tests and recommended treatments. Agus also suggests keeping track of indicators that can be observed at home on a regular basis—e.g., changes in energy, weight, appetite and blood pressure, blood sugar and general appearance. He advises that all of this information be made available online, and it is also helpful to investigate family history and consider DNA testing where indicated. Along with maintaining a healthy weight, Agus emphasizes the importance of eating a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and a minimum of red meat. Avoid packaged vitamins and food supplements, and if possible, grow your own vegetables or buy frozen vegetables, which will generally be fresher than those on supermarket shelves. The author also warns against processed foods that make health claims but contain additives or excessive amounts of sugar or fat. Regular mealtimes and plenty of sleep, frequent hand-washing and oral hygiene are a must; smoking and excessive time in the sun should also be avoided. Agus recommends that adults should consider taking statins and baby aspirin as preventative measures. He concludes with a decade-by-decade checklist of annual medical examinations that should be routine—e.g. blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, from one’s 20s on; colonoscopies, prostate exams and mammograms later—and a variety of top-10 lists (for example, “Top 10 Reasons to Take a Walk”).

Useful but disappointingly commonplace tips.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3095-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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