A grand, nightmarish page-turner that will have you riveted no matter how much you’d prefer to look away.

READ REVIEW

THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE

Even hell has crime. And somebody has to go through…well, you know…to bring criminals to justice.

Keeping up with changing times, hell is no longer a smoldering, glowing array of cauldrons, ovens and other barbecue pits that smell like brimstone. Think, instead, of the worst city you’ve visited in your life and imagine it being even ickier; where nothing smells or tastes good, public transportation is literally the pits, and there are pesky little demons waiting at every dimly illuminated corner to snap at you and bite your skin. This being hell, there is also a bureaucracy with rules. And when the rules are violated by theft and even murder, hell has at its disposal condemned little people such as Thomas Fool, one of the nether region’s “Information Men” assigned to look into egregious brutalities that not even hell’s masters (wherever they are) will tolerate. And when bodies of young people start turning up in such horrifically deformed shapes that their very souls are sucked clean, Fool is compelled both from within and without this underworld to investigate this bewildering serial murder case—which may auger yet another transfiguration of this Very Bad Place. With wit, ingenuity and prodigious timing, first-time British novelist Unsworth imagines an unsettling afterlife that at times feels uncomfortably close to some of the more unbearable regions of our waking dreams. The whodunit aspects of this novel may, in the end, be less interesting than the phantasmagorical details surrounding it. But that’s far less a complaint than a compliment of the author’s visionary gifts.

A grand, nightmarish page-turner that will have you riveted no matter how much you’d prefer to look away.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53934-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

DEATH IN HER HANDS

A note suggesting a woman has been killed in the woods captures the imagination of an elderly woman, with alarming intensity.

Vesta, the extremely unreliable narrator of Moshfegh’s fourth novel (My Year of Rest and Relaxation, 2018, etc.), is a 72-year-old widow who’s recently purchased a new home, a cabin on a former Girl Scout camp. Walking her dog through the nearby woods, she sees a note lying on the ground which says that a woman named Magda has been killed "and here is her dead body," but there's no body there or any sign of violence. Call the police? Too easy: Instead, Vesta allows herself to be consumed with imagining what Magda might have been like and the circumstances surrounding her murder. Whatever the opposite of Occam’s razor is, Vesta’s detective work is it: After some web searching on how mystery writers do their work, she surmises that Magda was a Belarussian teen sent to the United States to work at a fast-food restaurant, staying in the basement of a woman whose son, Blake, committed the murder. Moshfegh on occasion plays up the comedy of Vesta’s upside-down thinking: “A good detective presumes more than she interrogates.” But Vesta slowly reveals herself as what we might now call a Moshfegh-ian lead: a woman driven to isolation and feeling disassociated from herself, looking for ways to cover up for a brokenness she's loath to confront. Over the course of the novel, Vesta’s projections about Magda's identity become increasingly potent and heartbreaking symbols of wounds from the narrator's childhood and marriage. The judgmental voice of her late husband, Walter, keeps rattling in her head, and she defiantly insists that “I didn’t want Walter in my mindspace anymore. I wanted to know things on my own.” You simultaneously worry about Vesta and root for her, and Moshfegh’s handling of her story is at once troubling and moving.

An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel. (This book has been postponed; we'll update the publication date when it's available.)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7935-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more