A zealous, persistently amusing detective tale.

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40 NICKELS

From the Carnegie Fitch Mystery Fiasco series , Vol. 2

Sleuth Carnegie Fitch returns to investigate a dubious new religion headed by a dangerous quasi-preacher in the second installment of a mystery series about him. 

Despite successfully closing a case the year before, unlicensed Vancouver private eye Fitch has given up his office. Now driving a tow truck, he still has the PI “itch” and is currently working pro bono in his search for a missing calico cat. But he may have something more substantial when his sexual partner, Adora Carmichael, asks him to keep an eye out for a “kooky” local religion and its ruckus-causing preacher. Fitch sits in on a meeting of the Disciples of the Sacred Glow and quickly knows something is indeed wrong. Preacher Quincy Quest is actually Copernicus Janssen, an ex-dentist whom Fitch knows, from years ago, is bad news. This discovery leads to a paying client: Kathleen Brasher, whose son, Hugo, inexplicably closed the family business, and the Disciples now meet at the company’s former warehouse. But facing off against Janssen won’t be easy. The preacher also remembers Fitch and, aware of what the PI is up to, points two muscle-bound security men in his direction. But Fitch’s biggest threat is “the glow,” the DSG’s supposedly healing light that, in reality, precipitates a horrifying experience. Though the villain is immediately clear, Lester’s (Dead Clown Blues, 2017, etc.) briskly paced novella still allows for scenes of investigation. Fitch, for one, looks into an old murder that may have ties to Janssen. The baddies are unquestionably menacing and sometimes use Fitch as a punching bag; the story, however, as in the preceding installment, is predominantly humorous. Fitch’s endless wisecracks are more winsome than cynical, and the best scenes consist entirely of dialogue. Despite Adora’s status as a femme fatale having engaged in criminal activity in the past, the story’s standout character is Ellie Stevens. She’s a whip-smart teen who aids Fitch and has “the resourcefulness and the coffee habit of a 40-year-old.” 

A zealous, persistently amusing detective tale. 

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948235-16-7

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Shotgun Honey

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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