Veronica, by Nicholas Christopher

Waverly Place, Manhattan. (Image by Beyond My Ken)

The cover of Nicholas Christopher’s A Trip to the Stars bears the fiat, “A novel by the author of Veronica“, as if that were an enticement. Had I read Veronica first, I would not have read A Trip to the Stars, which is a literary proof of the fact that fate is fickle. Veronica commences thus – “In lower Manhattan there is an improbable point where Waverly Place intersects Waverly Place.  It was there I met Veronica, on a snowy, windy night. She was looking for her keys on the sidewalk in front of a brownstone beside the Convent of…

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Wake in Fright

(by Kenneth Cook) (1961) (Directed by Ted Kotcheff) (1971) (TV mini-series directed by Kriv Stenders) (2017) “May you dream of the Devil and wake in fright.”  Kenneth Cook began his terrific debut novel with this ancient curse, and then set his Dantesque tour in hell in a one-horse town where innocent, city-boy teacher John Grant, learns all about the dark underbelly of the Australian bush. Experience can be a brutal teacher and in the book, the hospitality of the locals from “The ‘Yabba” is far worse than anything a gang of criminals or terrorists could serve up: it’s a never-ending free-for-all…

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Six Four (by Hideo Yokoyama)

September 14, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Six Four, a best-selling sensation in Japan, is the first of Hideo Yokoyama’s novels to be translated into English. Yokoyama previously worked as an investigative journalist for a regional newspaper, and the main theme of his book is the relationship between a regional police force and the media. Superintendent Yoshinobu Mikami having been a detective for over twenty years is,  for reasons which are not clear (at least not to him), appointed Media Relations Director in the Administrative Affairs department of his local Prefecture.  He is the unhappy liaison between the local and Tokyo-based TV and press on the one hand and the police on…

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Novel)

By Henry Farrell. The critic Judith Crist said, “the guignol is about as grand as it gets”. Film buffs, was Crist talking about Henry Farrell’s short novel, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” or the 1962 film which it inspired?  Neither.  She meant the film “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte’ which Farrell co-wrote with Lukas Heller, the screenwriter for “Baby Jane”.  But Baby Jane Hudson is more gothicly horrifying on a good day than Charlotte and her lot on a Halloween killing spree. Blanche Hudson, a beautiful and feted film star of the 30s and 40s, has spent twenty dreary years in a wheelchair after suffering a spinal injury.  Her sister Jane shares Blanche’s gloomy Beverley…

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A Place of Greater Safety

"Louis must die so that the nation may live." (Robespierre by Louis-Léopold Boilly)

(by Hilary Mantel) (1992) “No law be left but the will of a prevailing force.” Thus Edmund Burke (1790) on the French Revolution; which pretty well sums it up. Whilst the revolution did send shock waves throughout the Monarchical world, at least for a time, it merely reflected the ripples that wash over any society that lacks broad consent as to its mores, or, alternately, lacks a ruler with sufficient iron in the fist. The Terror was all the more terrifying because of its instability; the hands that signed the death warrants one night couldn’t scratch their heads the next day….

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