A solid, well-constructed missing person case that features an appealing pair of quirky sleuths.

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THE SINGLE TWIN

A pair of misfit private detectives ply their trade in present-day Chicago in this soft-boiled mystery.

Little (Family Ghosts, 2019, etc.) introduces two eccentrics with impressive detective skills who are opposites in appearance: Aberforth “Abe” Willard Allard, the divorced father of a 14-year-old daughter, is a lanky, sad-eyed legal genius, and C.S. “Duff” Duffy, the son of a C.S. Lewis fan, is short and stocky, like a former football player—although he’s never gotten close to a gridiron. Duff discovered three murdered bodies years ago, when he was a teenager, and has long suffered from serious obsessive-compulsive disorder, which derailed his promising academic career. Abe and Duff’s normal grind includes lots of legal work and occasional consults with police in which they wield their “weird-ass Sherlock Holmes power,” as one police detective puts it. The pair’s skills are tested when ex–CIA agent Mindy Jefferson gives them $50,000 as a retainer and challenges them to find her when she inevitably goes missing. Her mother, now deceased, had revealed that Mindy had a twin brother, adopted by another family at birth. But while trying to track him down, Mindy began to realize that she was being followed. When Mindy does, in fact, disappear, Abe and Duff must unravel the mystery. Over the course of this amusing novel, Little makes sure that the detectives’ quest and its resolution always provide readers with a fun page-turner. The two heroes both have intriguing backstories, and they both struggle, in different ways, with the niceties of navigating relationships with others. Especially poignant are Little’s accounts of Abe’s efforts to properly parent his growing daughter. These scenes, and the author’s generous application of sly humor throughout the story, effectively make Abe and Duff fully realized characters rather than merely nerdy caricatures.

A solid, well-constructed missing person case that features an appealing pair of quirky sleuths.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79472-350-4

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 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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