THE KINDLING EFFECT

An engrossingly macabre debut novel by St. Louis Post-Dispatch correspondent Hernon (coauthor of Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty, 1991). In the argot of neuropathology, ``kindling'' is a horrific process employing an electric current to sensitize an animal's brain—to the point where it goes into spontaneous seizure and is effectively reprogrammed, permanently modifying certain behavioral patterns (antisocial or otherwise). And thereby hangs the tale spun by Hernon. His hero, John Brook, jumps at the chance to join the elite staff of Dr. Robert Hartigan's St. Louisbased clinic, celebrated for developing advanced treatments for severe mental illness, including criminal pathologies. The young forensic psychiatrist is also looking forward to renewing old acquaintances with Jenny Malone, a Ph.D. psychologist with whom he had a fling at the University of Chicago. What Brook doesn't at first appreciate is that the unscrupulous Hartigan and his ambitious subordinates are conducting dreadful experiments on the brains of unwilling convicts (supplied by a venal warden at the state penitentiary). Their efforts are underwritten by James Paulus, a wealthy (albeit delusional) conservative who's convinced kindling could solve America's violent-crime problem and put him in the White House. Unfortunately, Hartigan is experiencing grave difficulties in achieving the breakthroughs he has promised, and when two dangerous prisoners driven intermittently mad by their electroshock therapies make a successful break from the clinic, Brook finally realizes something must be done. With the intrepid Malone in tow, the determined shrink pursues Ed Lind, a bank robber he believes could be rehabilitated. Brook gets his man, and the unlikely trio heads for a sanctuary in the Smoky Mountains. Flushed from their refuge by Tom Brody, the clinic's ruthless security chief, and a crew of heavies, they make their last stand atop a forest-fire spotter's tower at the height of a November blizzard in North Carolina's hill country. Robin Cook meets Soldier of Fortune in a gripping (if often over-the-top) thriller chock-full of medico-legal arcana.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-688-14298-2

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more