Not much polish, and the feisty heroine isn’t much more than an amalgam of genre divas, but the vigorous narrative drive...

CLEAN CUT

Derivative debut thriller about a plastic surgeon with a hair fetish, by a longtime St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter.

Handsome is as handsome does, and “gorgeous” Dr. A. Romann Michaels does baaad. He’s one sick dude, probably because he had one sick mommy, who tried unsuccessfully to take him to bed hours before she killed herself. He was in junior high then, and ever since he’s had difficulty refraining from homicide where women are concerned. Well, not just any woman: there has to be hair, beautiful hair, like mommy’s, which he cuts off post-mortem, carefully washes, dries, bags, then adds to his stash in a Victorian hatbox reserved just for that purpose. When he slaughters an unfortunate prostitute named Finch, though, he comes to the attention of Sergeant Paris Murphy of the St. Paul (Minnesota) PD. Murphy—tough, smart, gorgeous in her own right, with a “small waist and narrow hips but larger than average breasts”—is precisely Michaels’s cup of tea: “Her hair hung like a velvet curtain around her swanlike neck.” So you know that it’s going to get personal between them. Early on, Murphy, famous for her intuition, convinces herself that Michaels is the sadistic perp who did Finch in. Making the case, however, is another matter, particularly since the wayward doctor is not only highly respected professionally but tightly connected politically. No other recourse, Murphy decides—as many of crime fiction’s female cops have done before her—but to turn herself into bait. That is, use her velvet curtain to trigger his lurking savagery. It works, of course, and though chilled by those “heartless, soulless orbs,” Murphy (symbolically at least) scalps her man.

Not much polish, and the feisty heroine isn’t much more than an amalgam of genre divas, but the vigorous narrative drive does offer hope for Monsour’s next.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-14968-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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