Even as a spoof, which is how it reads, this lurid work is less than entertaining.



A Southern gothic with a pro-environment veneer. 

In the dead of night, in the waters off Key West, a pirate radio broadcaster rants, encouraging callers to “Show me your rage.” Cut to a house in town, where an early-rising woman fondles her lesbian partner before strapping on a loaded Glock. Cut to a corpse in the ocean, tied to a buoy, ears cut off, lips sewn together. Cut to a floating raft, bearing dead men, women and children. No one can accuse Sanchez (King Bongo, 2003, etc.) of being slow out of the gate in his sixth novel. The broadcaster, Noah Sax, is the novel’s flawed hero. The rum-sodden disbarred lawyer styles himself an “eco-shock jock,” railing against the destruction of the environment. The woman is Luz Zamora, a fifth-generation Cuban-American and a Key West detective. The bodies on the raft are Haitian refugees. And the mutilated corpse was a partner in a huge new resort development which will harm the environment. There will be five more murder victims, all of them doing really bad things to Mother Nature. So there’s a serial killer on the loose, and through a microdigital recorder left in the mouth of the second victim, he identifies himself as Bizango, the Haitian voodoo avenger who punishes wrongdoers. This latest incarnation wears a full-body rubber suit painted with skeleton bones; his weapon is a steel spear. The bumbling police department briefly (and ludicrously) eyes the lone Haitian survivor, a terrified teenager, as the killer, before charging Noah (another blooper). Bizango outdoes himself by killing the captain of a cruise ship in his cabin and then invading the town’s Halloween parade, spearing the last of the resort partners on his float. The environmental theme is the junior partner in a bad marriage, overwhelmed by the blood and guts. When the killer’s identity is finally revealed, it will be the most improbable detail of all.

Even as a spoof, which is how it reads, this lurid work is less than entertaining.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-400-04232-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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