Erickson enhances a familiar formula with a keen understanding of his characters and a series of plot turns.



A tense kidnapping thriller that takes a deep dive into the murky waters of criminal psychology.

When Johnny and Craig meet, it’s a match made in hell. They meet as cellmates in prison after lengthy downward spirals into addiction, theft, and other petty crime. Both have histories of abuse, although Johnny has taken on the role of abuser, with Craig as his victim. When they get out of prison, they look for a way to make money and vent their rage, and their plans take a dark turn almost immediately. Concocting a scheme to kidnap Christian McKinley, the adopted grandson of one of Minnesota’s most wealthy citizens, is one thing. But when the two actually snatch Christian from a downtown Minneapolis Hilton and demand a $17 million ransom, the cracks in the ex-cons’ volatile relationship begin to show. And although the two had each pledged to be better fathers than their own were, taking care of an actual young man—one with the power and privilege that they were always denied—brings up more issues than they expected. Their mistrust and anger can only lead to a violent conclusion. Debut author Erickson’s prose is solid, offering several twists and using omniscient third-person narration to its fullest extent to provide insight into the characters—even those who don’t understand themselves. His depictions of the various players are emotionally razor-sharp, and he maintains a consistent narrative voice throughout. That said, his descriptions of psychological stresses can sometimes feel overly clinical, especially toward the beginning of the book: “The psychological damage manifested itself in Craig’s behavior as an adolescent and later as an adult, yet people around him could not read the messages his body was sending. His own messages even confused him and intensified his already fragile self-esteem.” This choice may alienate some readers, but those who like psychological profiling in their crime fiction will enjoy its depth.

Erickson enhances a familiar formula with a keen understanding of his characters and a series of plot turns.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5434-6562-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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