Despite much political blather, a rather conventional debut whodunit—the first in a series—with ample misdirection but not...

SWEET POISON

The Duke of Mersham’s dinner party has not been going well. His younger brother, car enthusiast Edward, invited to partner Hermione, poisonous stepdaughter of newspaper baron Lord Weaver, has not arrived by the time dessert is served, and the other guests are struggling to tolerate one another. Pacifist bishop Cecil Haycraft can barely abide WWI hero General Sir Alistair Craig VC, and Hitler confidant Helmut von Friedberg and rising conservative politician Peter Larmore are no more inclined to tabletop diplomacy than echt capitalist Lord Weaver. When Edward finally arrives after a car collision, he’s hitched a ride with darling Verity, who is—gosh—a reporter for the Daily Worker. They’ve barely sat down to eat when the general sips his port, turns blue, and dies from cyanide poisoning. Why murder the general when he was terminally ill with cancer? Perhaps the general himself meant to kill someone else, but incontinently reached for the wrong glass. Edward and Verity, in an odd-couple pairing, sort through motives and means, though they’re briefly sidetracked by communist party politics; von Friedberg’s recall to Berlin; a few torch songs offered by Lord Weaver’s “protégé”; and the near-death of Hermione, found next to the body of her drug supplier. There will be more fatalities and more scandals unearthed before Edward drives off in his newly repaired Lagonda automobile and the fetching Verity refuses party demands that she report to fascist Spain.

Despite much political blather, a rather conventional debut whodunit—the first in a series—with ample misdirection but not much depth.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7867-0819-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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