But then, to read Eco well, it helps to know about everything. Not quite as substantial as The Name of the Rose but a smart...
The sun is shining, the world is spinning, and the great Italian novelist and semiotician has a new book—which means that a conspiracy theory must be afoot somewhere close by.
Working territory much resembling that of Foucault’s Pendulum, Eco (The Prague Cemetery, 2011, etc.) spins a knotty yarn. The time is June 1992—meaningful to Italian readers as the inauguration of an ostensibly clean period in a notoriously corrupt politics. A hack and ghostwriter, Colonna (whose name means “column”), is long on brains if short on talent; as he says, “Losers, like autodidacts, always know much more than winners.…The more a person knows, the more things have gone wrong.” Ah, if he only knew the half of it, for just when it seems that he has no prospects left, he’s summoned to pen a memoir by a journalist who’s cooking up a Potemkin village of a newsmagazine, funded by a magnate who keeps secret the fact that Domani (tomorrow) will never actually hit the newsstand. Say what? Why write a book for a writer? Why staff a paper at much expense when it’s not really real? And why keep at it when the paper, stuffed with celebrity romances, scandal, and innuendo, is so obviously a vehicle for misinformation—and even blackmail? Those are modest mysteries compared to a larger one that implicates Italian history and society. Suffice it to say that much of the brouhaha concerns a certain baldheaded, square-jawed former dictator who brought Italy to ruin long before Colonna’s wheels ever started spinning, overlapping into the seamy sordidness of the Tangentopoli, or “bribegate,” of the narrative present. For all that, Eco draws in contemporary political figures, and dead popes, and assassination attempts, and terrorists, and banking scandals—well, it helps to know a bit about recent Italian history to keep up with what’s going on, especially when it’s often turned on its head.But then, to read Eco well, it helps to know about everything. Not quite as substantial as The Name of the Rose but a smart puzzle and a delight all the same.
Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
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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