Understated mystery concentrating on a morally ambiguous legal process—and riveting throughout.

Exonerated

In Dymond’s debut thriller, New York cops fight to bring a murderer to justice when the victim is a fellow officer’s sister.

The murder and mutilation of a Schenectady County woman unnerves local police. She was, after all, Officer Ed Roletti’s baby sister, Mary. Cops question friends and former boyfriends, but it’s evidence at the scene that narrows the suspects. Three of four sets of prints—the fourth unknown—lead to Ed and a couple of ex-lovers. With Capt. Jim Pollack refusing to believe Ed’s the killer and one ex in jail—that leaves only Chucky Dericardo. Some, like Detective Bill Watkins, aren’t convinced that Chucky’s their guy, but most at the police department see enough to justify arresting him for murder. District Attorney Franklin Dorey believes a conviction could improve his career prospects, but he’s understandably on edge when learning that Chucky hired notorious criminal defense lawyer John Upton. An ensuing trial, with no side dominating the other, ends with a jury’s decision, but it’s far from over. Seven years later, a SWAT raid uncovers something that causes everyone to reexamine Chucky’s case. What follows is a number of surprises, including another trial or two and more murder. The novel starts as a procedural before merging into a legal thriller. It’s a subdued mystery, thanks primarily to the plot’s hefty amount of realism. No incriminating clue, for example, points to a probable killer, and the arrest of Chucky is via process of elimination. Chucky, too, may be a viable suspect, but nothing ties him directly to the body. Told from multiple perspectives, there’s consequently no real protagonist; while a lack of viewpoint from Chucky keeps his guilt/innocence a secret but affords him no chance for sympathy. Female characters barely register, like Tammy Smith, sole woman in Jim’s unit, who disappears early. Nevertheless, the men are fascinating, particularly Bill, who obsessively counts his tie’s polka dots while watching the murder trial. And the ending, which wraps up everything, is bound to stick in readers’ heads.

Understated mystery concentrating on a morally ambiguous legal process—and riveting throughout.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969677-2-3

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Chunky Pops Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2016

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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