French writer Echenoz brings a revised edition of his 1999 novel to American readers with an introduction by Lily Tuck. The...

I'M GONE

A mystery that doubles as a sly work of serious literature.

Felix Ferrer is a middle-aged art dealer who likes to follow routines until the day he leaves his wife with the words, “You can keep everything, but I’m gone.” It's January in Paris; Echenoz has set in motion a story that jumps back and forth in time and among Felix and several people close to him who will disappear in the course of revealing a mystery. Felix will travel above the Arctic Circle on an icebreaker and bring home a treasure trove of ancient artifacts to try to revitalize his business. When his hoard of carved mammoth tusks, musk-ox horn and caribou bone is stolen by a finely dressed, cold and calculating character named Baumgartner, Felix’s life begins a slide into financial fear and bypass surgery. Along the way, he will fall in and out of several trysts with women who may or may not be connected to the heist. Womanizing, like his heart problem, haunts his middle age. Echenoz writes beautiful descriptions and chooses satirical details that poke fun at institutions and poses in our daily lives, including literary convention. This is not your mother’s crime novel. All is set before us by a narrator who intrudes with personal comments and amusing asides: “[D]aily life is too boring,” or “I who am here to tell you that Hélène is highly desirable.” What transpires in the end is a circle of mystery, a romantic romp and, ultimately, a perfect ending for Felix—almost. The next January restarts the cycle as Felix says, “Just one drink and then I’m going.” Again.

French writer Echenoz brings a revised edition of his 1999 novel to American readers with an introduction by Lily Tuck. The translation by Polizzotti is elegant, emphasizing the book's wry humor with economical emphasis. This novel is a quick read and a true jewel.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-999-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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