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The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspenseby Joyce Carol Oates
Synopses & Reviews
In "The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza" a woman's world is upended when she learns the brutal truth about a family friend's death — and what her father is capable of. Meanwhile, a businessman desperate to find his missing two-year-old grandson in "Suicide Watch" must determine whether the horrifying tale his junky son tells him about the boy's whereabouts is a confession or a sick test. In "Valentine, July Heat Wave" a man prepares a gruesome surprise for the wife determined to leave him. And the children of a BTK-style serial killer struggle to decode the patterns behind their father's seemingly random bad acts, as well as their own, in "Bad Habits."
In these and other stories, Joyce Carol Oates explores with bloodcurdling insight the ties that bind — or worse. The Museum of Dr. Moses is another chilling masterpiece from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation).
"The words 'gothic' and 'macabre' rather than 'mystery' and 'suspense' might better describe the 10 beautifully told stories in this superb collection from the prolific Oates (The Female of the Species). In the startling opening tale, 'Hi! Howya Doin!,' an overly friendly jogger encounters someone with a less rosy outlook on life. In the horrifying 'Valentine, July Heat Wave,' an estranged wife finds a very unpleasant surprise in the home she once shared with her academic husband. In the haunting 'Feral,' a near-death experience transforms a much-loved only child into something wild and unknowable. The title story concerns a horrific exhibit in the home of an aging coroner in upstate New York (whose behavior is even more troubling). The book's best story, 'The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza,' about an aging boxer in a bout that will make or end his career, happens to be the least gruesome. Powerful narratives, a singular imagination and exquisite prose make this a collection to relish." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Of all the literary writers who dip their toes in the dark waters of crime fiction, few do so with the credibility and acumen of Joyce Carol Oates. The focus of 'The Museum of Dr. Moses,' her latest collection of mystery stories, is on relationships. Whether they are between man and woman, parent and child or simply between strangers, Oates uses these relationships to generate the tension and conflict... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) that any good suspense tale requires. The best stories here deal with the complicated bonds between parents and children. 'Suicide Watch' finds a wealthy man visiting his son in a psych ward, where the young man has been locked up after his girlfriend and their little boy went missing. The son spins a tale for his father of a drug binge that resulted in something terrible happening to the boy. Or did it? The challenge of this story is trying to decide what is true and what the young man is manufacturing simply to torment his father. It's an effective piece of psychological suspense. Perhaps the most chilling entry in the book is the title story, 'The Museum of Dr. Moses,' in which a young woman, estranged from her family, is trying to make amends. She visits her mother and her new stepfather, Dr. Moses, at their grand, albeit bleak, house. There she finds that Moses, a former coroner, has turned the place into a ghastly museum of medical lore — and that's not even the creepiest thing going on. The best of the collection, however, is 'The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza,' a long, layered tale of a washed-up boxer who killed himself and the lingering effects of his suicide on the people around him. Although his life and death were shrouded in mystery, the darkest secret of all belongs to the fighter's best friend. By finding the horrors that exist in everyday life — always the most fertile source for fear — Oates has crafted a suspenseful and satisfying collection. Some of the stories in 'The Museum of Dr. Moses' hew more closely to mystery than to the macabre, but they are all a ghoulish delight. David J. Montgomery, the editor of Mystery Ink, writes frequently about mysteries and thrillers." Reviewed by David J. Montgomery, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
"It's almost customary, when reviewing [Oates], to get off a crack at her prodigious output. But the care and intellect she applies to all of her projects, even what is theoretically 'just' genre fare, are anything but jokes. These stories sizzle, and turning pages only fans the flames." Booklist
"Like a musician gently turning up the volume on a single note until the listener has a hard time imagining it not there, Oates is a master of suspense. She fearlessly layers and repeats phrases." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Anyone moved by Oates' classic tales of contemporary malevolence...will find much here to keep the ghoulish fires burning....Prolific as she is, can we just get over the usual comments about her productivity (usually delivered by critics with a mocking tone)? Can't we just stop and marvel at her inventiveness?" Los Angeles Times
In these stories, bestselling author Oates explores with bloodcurdling insight the ties that bind — or worse.
In "Hi! Howya Doin!" an intrusive jogger meets with an abrupt fate; in "The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza" a young womans romantic view of her girlhood is devastated by her fathers confessions; and in "Valentine, July Heat Wave" a man prepares a gruesome surprise for the wife who has betrayed him. In the title story, a young woman tries to rescue her mother from the museum of Dr. Moses—with unexpected results. And the children of a notorious serial killer struggle to "decode" the patterns behind their fathers seemingly random acts in "Bad Habits."
In these and other suspenseful stories, Joyce Carol Oates explores with chilling accuracy the ways in which evil enters our lives. The Museum of Dr. Moses is another masterpiece from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation).
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates is the recipient of the PEN/ Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the winner of the National Book Award. Among her major works are We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, and The Falls. She lives in New Jersey.
Table of Contents
Hi! Howya Doin! 1
Suicide Watch 7
The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza 25
Valentine, July Heat Wave 85
Bad Habits 98
The Hunter 146
The Twins: A Mystery 165
Stripping 182The Museum of Dr. Moses 185
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