Rapid, compelling storytelling informed by rigorous research and enlivened by fecund imagination.

MRS. SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE TRUE STORY OF NEW YORK CITY'S GREATEST FEMALE DETECTIVE AND THE 1917 MISSING GIRL CASE THAT CAPTIVATED A NATION

The author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—The Creators of Superman (2013) returns with the astonishing story of the first female U.S. district attorney.

Ricca, an authority on comics and a SAGES fellow at Case Western Reserve University, crafts an express train of a story that follows the career of the woman born Mary Grace Winterton (1869-1948), who had two failed marriages, during which her surname became first Quackenbos and then Humiston (the name she bears through much of the text). Ricca’s focus is on her most spectacular case, that of young Ruth Cruger, a recent high school graduate who, in February 1917, disappeared after getting her ice skates sharpened at a neighborhood shop in Harlem. In the early sections of the book, the author artfully—even cinematically—shifts our attention, chapter by chapter, among the Cruger case and some of Humiston’s earlier cases, which required staggering amounts of travel and research and even danger for Humiston, who’d earned a law degree but would eventually segue into full-time investigations of the cases that obsessed her. She would also galvanize the newspaper-reading public, making her a celebrity and earning her the name in the book’s title. Many cases involved the disappearance and/or abuse of girls and women. Ricca had to rely heavily on newspaper and magazine accounts (there are 45 pages of endnotes) because all the official records of most of her cases were destroyed by accident or intent. Throughout—as he acknowledges near the end—the author breathes life into the narrative by imagining gestures, thoughts, attitudes, and ruminations for his characters. After some very high-profile successes, Humiston’s career began to crack when she went after the military near the end of World War I, and she died in virtual obscurity.

Rapid, compelling storytelling informed by rigorous research and enlivened by fecund imagination.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-07224-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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