PanThe Washington PostThe opening is unfortunately a harbinger of what ails the rest of this novel. We are expected to believe that a person like Adèle — outwardly successful, with her marriage to a well-to-do surgeon husband, an ascendant career in journalism, adorable children — has an inward void that can only be slaked, temporarily, by random sexual encounters. This dichotomy is meant to be transgressive, all the more for the lack of explanation for Adèle’s extramarital desires. It’s not ... Adèle glides through the narrative on a numb-inducing wave ... Reading Adèle was like being in the middle of a blocking exercise in a play rehearsal. Move her here, move him there, see what happens, if anything happens at all.
Stephen L. Carter
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewCarter’s portrayal of his grandmother is full of love and admiration, though it sometimes tips into overt speculation about her thoughts and emotions ... Mercifully, Invisible escapes hagiography in favor of cleareyed portraiture, even when matters don’t fit comfortably into it. This is especially true when Carter chronicles the fissures in her marriage...and the deep estrangement between Eunice and her brother, which was not fully repaired by the time both died, within 10 days of each other. A keen sense of loss permeates the book, grief for a ruptured family whose members could not be reconciled ... Struggle demands nuance. Truthful narratives demand complexity. Stephen L. Carter has revived his grandmother’s voice when we most need it, and with utmost urgency.
PositiveNew RepublicWilliam Roughead (a Glasgow Lawyer and writer)...attended the trial of Oscar Slater in Glasgow in May 1909, writing it up for the Notable Scottish Trials series. He believed that the guilty verdict, arrived at after barely an hour of deliberation, was wrong ... Roughead broadcast his disbelief in Slater’s guilt from the first, to anyone who would listen, enjoining the most famous detective fiction writer in the world, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his cause. Conan Doyle For the Defense cannot resist structuring itself as a detective novel, though the whodunit is less about who killed Marion Gilchrist and more about who framed Oscar Slater ... The ingredients are too good to pass up: a famous detective novelist actually playing detective, a man serving time for a murder he did not commit, and a criminal justice system slowly, and reluctantly, reckoning with the advent of forensic science—fingerprints were around when Slater was arrested and convicted, but in one of so many missed opportunities to right the wrong, never used ... How the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories fought for—and ultimately turned against—a man wrongfully convicted.
PositiveThe Paris ReviewWhen I first read Helen Weinzweig’s Basic Black with Pearls several years ago, I emerged in the sort of daze that happens when a book seems to ferret out your most secret thoughts and hopes. Since then I’ve described the book to others as an \'interior feminist espionage novel\' ... The interior nature of Basic Black is central to its unfolding ... Basic Black with Pearls contains overt references to Virginia Woolf and covert ones to feminist classics like Kate Chopin’s The Awakening ... These novels describe women not only breaking away from conventions but filled with desire and ambition that are almost too much to bear, a secret from themselves. Weinzweig had to search out these books to counteract decades of reading male-dominated narratives, which she needed to reject to construct her own style ... A novel needs an ending, but Basic Black with Pearls manages to subvert that requirement too.
RaveThe Washington Post\"But derivative works and adaptations can’t fully explain why Christie’s work endures. A splendid biography by Laura Thompson, however, does. Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life was published in Britain over a decade ago and took an inexplicable amount of time to cross the pond. Yet the timing is perfect because Thompson’s thorough yet readable treatment of Christie’s life, in combination with artful critical context on her work, arrives at the reason for her endurance.\
PositiveThe New Republic...a delightful concoction of well-told vignettes ... Avid Reader errs on the side of congeniality. Gottlieb, for all of his blunt prose, is a smoother-over, chiefly concerned with what needs to be done but careful to manage the feelings and egos of his authors and the agents who represent them ... I took heart, as someone steeped in genre, at Gottlieb’s lack of snobbery about popular fiction ... Gottlieb never forgets it is the reader who matters, since he himself is foremost one of those people.
PositiveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewI cannot think of a more informed, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable tour guide through the historical and contemporary intersection of burglary and architecture than Geoff Manaugh. A Burglar’s Guide to the City makes disparate connections seem obvious in hindsight, and my worldview is altered a little bit more, and far for the better, as a result.