by Steven Gillis ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 17, 2017
A smart chamber drama about the ways aesthetics can govern lives—and, at times, can make people toxic to those around them.
In this novel of midlife malaise and creative frustration, a novelist insinuates himself into the seemingly idyllic life of a local couple, with emotional destruction in mind.
Eric McCanus, the narrator of Gillis’ (The Consequences of Skating, 2010, etc.) novel, leads a complicated life. He’s the author of a literary cult classic, but as he’s grown older, his time has been increasingly spent working in the music industry. He remains friendly with his ex-wife, Lidia, and he’s begun a nebulous relationship with Gloria, a musician. As the novel opens, he sees a couple, Matt and Cara, who seem to be perfectly happy—and so he decides to befriend both with the hope of putting their marriage to the test and obtaining material for a new novel along the way. “I have come to regard every relationship as its own intimate deception,” he says early in the book, and some of the tension in the novel arises as he attempts to prove himself right, treating the very real lives around him as though they’re as malleable as characters in a book. Gillis periodically incorporates passages from Eric’s work in progress, demonstrating the gulf between his imagined version of Cara and Matt and the actual version of the couple. The five main characters each have wildly different takes on the nature of love and creative expression, and the discussions that they have are lively. Gillis doesn’t let Eric’s more controlling or condescending tendencies go unnoticed: at one point, he quips to Gloria, “What do you know about Berryman?” It’s a heady book that also acknowledges the dangers of headiness.A smart chamber drama about the ways aesthetics can govern lives—and, at times, can make people toxic to those around them.
Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017
Page Count: 208
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by James Patterson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 5, 2003
As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...
Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.
According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.
Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003
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