WALL OF BRASS

Which murder would New York City chief of detectives Bert P. Farber least like to be investigating? The police commissioner's, of course. Especially when the commissioner was the old partner who leapfrogged him into his present job over the senior competition- -now his competitors for the commissioner's job, who would like nothing better than to hamstring his investigation. Not that there was any love lost between Bert and the late Harry Chapman, who told his partner the first night on patrol about his timetable for advancement: two years as patrolman while finishing law school, three years in the DA's office, then Congress, the commissioner's job, then senator or governor, then the big one. He'd still be well within his timetable if he hadn't been shot in the heart one snowy morning on Manhattan's Upper West Side. But Bert, once he gets over a serious case of the flashbacks (he and Harry had romanced the same two women, marrying each other's dates), wonders why Harry was jogging miles from his Greenwich Village home. Despite interference from his rivals for Harry's job, he soon finds a love nest unlocked by the key he snitched from Harry's corpse. But which of Harry's secret women killed him—the flight attendant, the Mafia princess, or the inevitable police wife? Bert has swiped both the key and the fatal bullet without logging them in, broken into Harry's office to steal his little black book, seized a stained suit of clothes without a warrant, and hidden in a ladies' room to interrogate a suspect while her lawyer waited back in his office. Given these breaches of procedure, what kind of case will the DA be able to make against the perp, and what will Bert's reputation, to say nothing of his chances for promotion, look like when the dust has settled? Not up to the level of Tainted Evidence (1993)—those long flashbacks, fueled by nothing more than a heap of dramatic irony, make the first half of the novel slow going. But once it builds up steam, a powerful portrait of a bulldog cop who doesn't even know himself why he won't let go.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 1994

ISBN: 0-316-17206-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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

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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

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