Spenser’s always been as mannered and self-involved as he finds Marlon Brando, but it’s hard to remember a single one of his...

WIDOW’S WALK

When even Pearl the Wonder Dog is slowing down—she’s deaf and arthritic and obviously hasn’t long to live—you have to wonder whether Spenser will ever rouse himself from his recent doldrums (Potshot, 2001, etc.). Not this time.

As usual, though, Boston’s favorite private eye slides into his 30th case as smooth as a knife sinking into butter. The State is convinced that Mary Smith, with her brains and supermodel looks, shot her patrician banker husband Nathan to death even though she claims she was downstairs watching Survivor; her attorney, Rita Fiore, naturally taking Mary’s view of the case, rouses herself from coyly propositioning Spenser long enough to ask him to dig up exculpatory evidence. Spenser’s highly trained response is to ask for a list of Mary’s friends—it’s a long list including very few actual friends—then begin questioning them and, when he notices he’s being followed by a pair of goons, to go on asking pointless questions until one of his conversations goads the goons into acting. The red-flag suspect, Smith financial advisor Brinkman Tyler, is soon dead, along with an unwisely chatty bank officer, an ex-con who claims Mary Smith hired him to ice her husband, and the ex-con’s girlfriend; Spenser himself, not to be outdone, notches up a sixth casualty. But none of his obviously provocative questioning leads anywhere except the morgue and some gay bars catering to seriously underage drinkers until one of his dozen interchangeable suspects implicates another, and the whole house of cards—a complicated, forgettable scam—comes tumbling down.

Spenser’s always been as mannered and self-involved as he finds Marlon Brando, but it’s hard to remember a single one of his earlier cases that provided so few non-Spenser pleasures. The bestselling hero’s earned a rest between hits, of course, but what about the fans who made him a star?

Pub Date: March 18, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-14845-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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

Did you like this book?

more