An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.

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SIZZLER

In this supernatural novel, the residents of a Florida suburb challenge a dead killer able to jump between bodies.

Margate, Florida, is a quiet suburb full of good neighbors, clean yards, and safe children. It’s the perfect place for recently deceased serial killer Eli Wickenscholz to wreak havoc from beyond “the veil.” As an entity of pure energy, he’d like to re-enter the physical realm. Doing so means absorbing the dark potential lurking in the average citizen. He begins manipulating some of the residents’ “psychic and sexual energy.” Lexi-Jo Lyman, meanwhile, has moved to Margate to start over. Her past involved dating Kono, a con man. Now she’s hiding from Ghost, the hitman who killed Kono. Elsewhere, Toni Arrigone runs the Heaton Motel and Bar. Toni is sure that the business’ former owners, the Muelensteins, hid “a large sum of money” that they didn’t put in the bank. Other Margate denizens caught in Eli’s trap are young Teddy Millhausen-Jones, who can tell that the sex-crazed adults are “under a spell,” and psychic Cueball Kusiniski, who, along with his daughter, Saige, learns that only a special amulet can keep Eli’s essence within a host body of his choosing. Into the mix comes Det. Kellie Sierra to carve logic from the madness. This thriller by Schimanski (Meter of Redemption, 2017, etc.) and Tiernan (Yield, 2016, etc.) feels like quintessential Florida pulp, right down to the disposal of bodies in the Everglades. The tight narrative moves like an alligator through water, giving an equal jolt of life to numerous quirky characters, including Herbert Duvane, an albino computer repairman. He and Lexi-Jo discuss Kundalini energy, which is “the latent blueprint of all that we are and all we are yet to be.” When Eli’s possessions begin, he picks likely and unlikely hosts, providing satisfying twists, among them the killer’s inability to fully control certain people. Florida’s natural magic doesn’t go unnoticed, as in the line “Teddy was mesmerized by the majestic beauty and the foreboding wilderness of the Everglades.” The finale brings surprising closure to various characters, leaving exciting space for a sequel.

An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.

Pub Date: June 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68470-318-0

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2019

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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