PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... engrossing ... a good tale, well told, with the requisite twists, turns, and surprises. In parts, Darnielle’s writing is lyrical ... There are, however, a number of narrative speed bumps and detours, which may be intriguing to some readers but distracting to others ... The most compelling parts of Devil House are Gage’s insightful, sometimes painfully clear-eyed reflections on the craft of true crime writing. It is one that rings true—sometimes spot on—to a nonfiction crime practitioner ... Darnielle, like Gage, knows what he is doing. For fans of true crime and fictional thrillers—as well as for would-be practitioners of either—Devil House is an entertaining, but also an instructional read.
Robert P. Jones
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAs well as a searing indictment, White Too Long is a passionate call to action ... If White Too Long has a shortcoming, at least for general readers, there are some slow patches, including one chapter and lengthy appendices with an abundance of supporting statistical data for his views. For a pollster, it’s an understandable weakness. But as this book demonstrates, Robert Jones is a man of conscience, raised as a Deep South evangelical, who is now a progressive and a committed anti-racist. Implicitly, his book raises compelling questions for Democrats in the upcoming election: Are there others like Jones, among the Sun Belt’s white evangelicals, a cohort constituting a redemptive minority?
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksFrom the book’s Introduction, it is clear that the reader is in sure, seasoned hands ... Kaufman doesn’t disguise, excuse, or sugarcoat the way the Sassoons made their first Chinese fortune ... Understandably, and unavoidably, the narrative loses some momentum after the 1949 Communist victory, in which the Sassoons lost an estimated half a billion dollars in seized assets.
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... an incisive view from the left ... Thankfully, Unholy is not a superficial, quick-and dirty take like Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. Posner’s entry makes a helpful and complementary companion volume to Frances Fitzgerald’s recent, magisterial book, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, which covers some of the same territory ... Unholy’s primary value is its personal, on-the-scene interviews, and historical context. It documents in dense, meticulous—sometimes excruciating—detail the worst fears and suspicions of those who believe in the constitution’s separation of church and state ... So as the 2020 election approaches, is Unholy a worthwhile addition to this sagging book shelf of attacks on conservative, white evangelicals? Does it say much on the subject that is new? Unfortunately, not so much ... While deeply researched and eloquently written, Posner doesn’t tell casual observers something they don’t already know, or could reasonably predict ... But worse, the sad truth is that no amount of editorial huffing and puffing will bring down Trump’s house, his base of white evangelical support. His handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic may be another story, perhaps for another book.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksSallie Bingham’s admiration for her subject pervades the biography, which is not surprising. Herself raised in privilege in a Louisville, KY, newspaper dynasty, and a philanthropist, Bingham is well suited to tell this story ... There are some problems with this otherwise competent biography, including dry patches bogged down with minutiae, marbled with facts and details that do little to advance or inform the narrative ... At times it is also chronologically erratic.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a compelling, fast-paced tale of two seemingly disparate families ... There is a devilishly deft plot twist at the finale ... This is a well-constructed novel with a strong, atmospheric sense, which is not surprising. The locale is a fictional stand-in for the author’s home town of Ocean Grove on the Province of Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula ... a gripping psychological thriller that delivers on its examination of the corrosive impact of family secrets with a dramatic finish that upends expectations ... A small caution: There are probably more details of taxidermy—not coincidentally White’s wife’s hobby—than the average reader may require or find palatable.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksEmily Nussbaum is insightful and engaging in this collection ... Clearly, readers are in the hands of an expert with a deep understanding and appreciation of what she considers an American art form ... Less compelling is Nussbaum’s chapter on the gory, NBC crime drama Hannibal, which she finds \'gloriously strange and profound in the realm of opera and poetry,\' but is almost as unreadable as the show is unwatchable ... Yet even when writing about shows which viewers may never have watched or liked, Nussbaum is thought-provoking. And she is especially acute in identifying the failings of hit series[.]
Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksPerfectly pitched for millenials and older, the tone is discursive and reflexively tangential ... While the podcast has a semblance of structure, the book reads more like a stream of consciousness blog, written by two obviously witty, intelligent women, seemingly baffled by their success. There is discussion of their childhood traumas, family disfunctions, and much talk of the value of therapy—all pretty standard, uplifting, self-help fare. Nothing you couldn’t figure out yourself ... Fortunately, they do take breaks from this obsessive introspection to return to their addiction to murder—after all, the reason for the book—and where it all began ... it’s conceivable that a stodgy, elderly person, one who might have spent long hours covering numerous capital murder trials, with more than passing experience viewing graphic death scene photos and reading autopsy reports, might find this light-hearted approach to violent death more irritating than frivolous.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksReading Scribe, Alyson Hagy’s slim, dystopian novel, it’s difficult not to hear echoes of Cormac McCarthy’s eerie, early Appalachian writing. Although Hagy has clearly created a work of imagination, she writes with the infused, dark, Scotch-Irish sensibility of someone raised in southwestern Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, as she was, steeped in her farm family’s lore ... At times, the narrative can be both sketchy and challenging, but well worth the effort.