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Kissing the Beehive [Paperback]

Jonathan Carroll
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 10 2000
When bestselling novelist Sam Bayer decides it's time he wrote his "Great Book", he chooses as his subject the death of a teenage beauty, Pauline Ostrova - the 'Beehive'. The town of Crane's view never felt the same after he discovered her body, floating in the lake, over twenty years before. Her boyfriend, Edward Durant, was arrested for the murder, tried and imprisoned. He died in Sing Sing jail. Sam Bayer's new book will tell her story, bring her to life again, and restore something of what the town had lost. But, for Samuel Bayer, the journey into his past becomes a terrifying jolt into the reality of the present. Bayer's gesture of respect to his youth turns sour in the face of all that he unearths; for many of the people close to him, this leads to devastating - and fatal - consequences.

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From Library Journal

Popular fiction writer Sam Bayer is in a slump, without a single idea for his next book, and both his publisher and his agent are breathing down his neck. On a whim, he visits his boyhood hometown, a small place in New York, and encounters an idea for a nonfiction work?he will write about the murder of Pauline Ostrova, whose body he discovered floating in the Hudson when he was a high school boy. When he shares the idea with an intriguing woman, a fan of his, improbably named Veronica Lake, he unleashes a series of events that bring the old murder back into the open, setting off the killer again. Carroll's (Panic Hand, LJ 12/96) book is strung like a piano wire whose surprising final note only sounds on the last page. Stephen King has aptly compared Carroll to Alfred Hitchcock. This novel is sure to find a wide audience and will be in demand by Carroll's rabid fans. Recommended.?David Dodd, Santa Cruz Cty. Lib. Sys., Cal.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

A gripping and often quite amusing literary thriller from the expatriate American author of After Silence (1996), and several other exercises in often very imaginative comic surrealism. Carroll's latest is a witty take on the writing life and, just possibly, also a sly homage to his colleague Stephen King (one of several Carroll thanks in a gracious dedication). It's the wry, edgy first-person story told by successful novelist Sam Baver, who's uneasily dealing with middle age, the aftermaths of three divorces, and a severe case of writer's block. Sam's creative juices are revived, however, when an impulsive visit to his hometown of Crane's View, New York, stirs up memories of the only memorable event of his undistinguished youth: his discovery, when he was 15, of the body of a murdered teenaged girl. Sam realizes he has never believed that neighborhood beauty Pauline Ostrova was killed by her boyfriend Edward Durant (who confessed to the crime and later took his own life)--and his investigation of this long-buried story involves him with several other varyingly suspicious characters. Among them are: Frannie McCabe, Sam's old friend and fellow hell-raiser; Johnny Petangles, a slow-witted recluse who proves to have known Pauline better than anyone realized; and Edward Durant's dying father, a former federal prosecutor who has long believed Pauline's amour with a local Mafioso sealed his innocent son's fate. Things are further complicated by the unruly presence in Sam's life and affections of a gorgeous fan of his writing, improbably named Veronica Lake, who sticks troublingly close to him even after he thinks he's dumped her (shades of King's Misery). It sounds rather overheated, but Carroll blends all these elements beautifully, and brings the novel to a smashing and surprising climax. If this be Carroll's attempt to enter the commercial mainstream, more power to him. With this terrifically entertaining tale, he has improved the quality of the water. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Thoroughly Engrossing Mystery April 24 2000
Format:Hardcover
I've long been a fan of Jonathan Carroll's work and only recently picked up _Kissing the Beehive_. It's an excellent tale of a blocked writer (see Donald Westlake's _The Hook_) who goes back to his boyhood hometown to look into the mystery surrounding the death of a girl, whose body he discovered floating in the Hudson River. He intends to write the story of what he discovers and he ultimately discovers the secret. Along the way, we're treated to a slowly unfolding, very gripping story, including the tragic figure of a wild fan who first intrigues, then scares our protagonist. Carroll has a gift for writing some of the most poignant characters and scenes--things that really get under your skin and drag you in feet-first. I'm thinking about one memorable scene in which three of our main characters are sitting on the porch, sharing jokes and stories, and the writer-protagonist says something along the lines of "I'm very glad I have both of you in my life." I'm very glad there's an author like Jonathan Carroll in mine (too cheesy?).
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Format:Hardcover
This book had me captivated from the first page. Great mystery. Great characters. Good story!
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3.0 out of 5 stars okay Oct. 10 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This was my second Carroll book, after the fantastic Land of Laughs. It was pretty good for a while, but it got a little boring eventually and really fizzled out at the end. But I'd say it was still worth reading for his wonderful style of writing. I especially loved the interaction between Sam and his daughter in the first half of the book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars suave, stylized mystery Sept. 5 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
As a teen-ager in upstate New York, novelist Samuel Bayer discovered the body of a murdered woman. Returning home decades later to write about the death, he finds his rakehell high-school best friend has become police chief; an anonymous killer is delivering bouquets and mocking literary critiques; and his neurotic new girlfriend-a beautiful documentary filmmaker-is secretly interviewing everyone in his unfinished book. These elements (plus kidnapping, a village idiot, Westchester gangsters, and a suicide cult), form a sleightly-joined mystery, neatly corked by a swift conclusion over champagne in a drawing room.
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5.0 out of 5 stars rare Aug. 15 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Some who are familiar with Jonathan Carroll's books have, oddly enough,not been quite as satisfied with "Kissing the Beehive" as with his other books. They seem not to have respected or understood Carroll's desire as an artist for a direction change, which to me seems rather intolerant. For once he wanted not "only" "magic realism", but something else in "addition" - and he has the right to! After all HE is the one who writes hours and hours for us, he is the one who nourishes our senses, who creates the worlds we cannot create, the worlds we want to inhabit, the worlds we flee to. He is a artist and draws from his fantasy, HIS own unique imagination which he generously allows us to share. I was fascinated by this very book and feel honored to have been allowed access to yet another part of Carrolls vision - the ability to write a thriller which, until the end, leaves you breathless and in complete oblivion - not your typical thriller - an unearthly thriller which searches unforseeable depths and facets of human nature and human behavior. It is hard to put this book aside. Throughout, one is both intrigued and at the same time repelled by certain characters,another reason why this book is so fascinating. Beehive is a piece of Carroll's repertoire that "slightly falls out of place" (..."aus der Reihe tanzen") - One can say it is different from the others, and that is why it is so interesting. Carroll writes about what his soul longs for. I recommend this book and all of the others he has and will write. Jonathan Carroll is one of the most reliable writers around - he is always fun, smart, witty, insightful. Each of his books is rare.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but... July 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I have to say the irony of the plot is amusing. Carroll is an excellent author of literature, trying to make his way into the "mainstream" by writing about a pulp novelist who wants to write his first "real book". While Kissing the Beehive is certainly more original and worthwhile than most novels, it is sub-par Jonathan Carroll and you would be better off spending time with his A Child Across the Sky or From the Teeth of Angels.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Kissing the Beehive Carroll's latest foray into sinister stealth
By Bram Eisenthal
It was 1985 when I first discovered one of the horror field's greatest latter-day writers. I asked a clerk at Ottawa's House of Speculative Fiction if he could recommend someone really unusual - I had my fill of early Stephen King at the time - and he immediately whipped out a book and thrust it at me. "Land of Laughs," he said. "It's unbelievable... really different."
I had never even heard of Jonathan Carroll before and I generally knew my horror authors, so I was perturbed. How good could he be? Published in 1980 and the New York-born resident of Vienna's first novel, The Land of Laughs lived up to the clerk's billing. Highly imaginative and very frightening, it showcased the talents of a writer who excels at setting a macabre stage by allowing the horror to creep up on you v-e-r-r-r-y slowly. His tales are happy, funny and whimsical to start with, but chapter by chapter, Carroll adds sinister elements. Before you realize it, you're staring death squarely in the face. His second, Voice of Our Shadow, is even more shocking for its sinister stealth.
Kissing the Beehive is Carroll's tenth novel; one of the more recent ones, The Panic Hand, is a Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology that I highly recommend. As with the others, Beehive begins innocently enough, with a few stragglers rather than the swarm yet to come. Author Sam Bayer is in a slump, meeting with his agent in an attempt to untangle the cobwebs responsible for his terrible writer's block. His pending divorce is really creating havoc. Later, at a book signing, he meets an incredibly gorgeous fan, a California blonde named Veronica Lake.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Carroll has done it again!
I loved this book, as I love all of Carroll's books. He is my favorite author. His imagination, intelligence and wit, not to mention fabulous characters, plots, and dialogue,... Read more
Published on Jan. 21 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Kissing the Beehive is no Outside the Dog Museum...
Kissing the Beehive is Jonathan Carroll's latest offering, and it's not really a fantasy book--or whatever genre you want it to be--but more of a thriller, though it does have... Read more
Published on June 15 1998 by Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars Carroll at his best
"On the level of sheer sentence-construction and his pellucid prose, Jonathan Carroll is among the most purely pleasing writers of the decade. Read more
Published on June 14 1998
2.0 out of 5 stars Not great reading material
Unfortunately, this is the first Carroll book I have read, so I cannot compare its literary quality with others. Read more
Published on June 11 1998
2.0 out of 5 stars Some Good Writing, But Preposterous Plot
Kissing the Beehive starts well, but the storytelling deteriorates pretty quickly. It's a great premise for a book: a blocked writer goes home and finds the story of his career--a... Read more
Published on June 11 1998
4.0 out of 5 stars Show me the Magic!
'Kissing the Beehive' is too, too short. At least for this fan. One thing I love about Carroll's work is his ability to create an appealing reality with likable characters and... Read more
Published on May 1 1998 by Steven E. Rayner (s.rayner@mailcity.com)
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