MEASURE OF EMPTINESS.
Johns Hopkins University Press.
107 pages. $29.95. In a landscape unrelievedly horizontal, the odd vertical structure stands out like a pyramid on the desert. In some parts of the Midwest, these totemic structures are the grain elevators, skyscrapers of the prairie that mirror the economic health -- or lack thereof -- of the country surrounding them.
Photographer Frank Gohlke captures perfectly the eerie majesty these structures, some of them simple, rickety protrusions by a railroad track, some multiple cylinders many stories tall and hundreds of feet long. Some are quite stark, concrete pipes poking into the sky; some are -- perhaps accidentally -- beautiful, as wind and water reshape the man-made finish. The black-and-white photographs are stark and sharp, with velvet shadows and every blade of grass distinct.
A concluding essay by agricultural historian John C. Hudson explains how the elevators evolved, as part of a peculiarly American system of getting farm products to market, linked to the railways and the impact of tiny price differences on very large shipments. The essay is a tiny time trip through American farm history that does much to explain the title of the book.
@ For years, Lucas Davenport of the Minneapolis Police Department has battled the police force as well as the criminals he's tracked. He gets fed up, and finally Lucas, who is independently wealthy, quits the MPD. But after several months of retirement, Lucas realizes he still misses the hunt. And Dr. Michael Bekker, the psychopath he captured in "Eyes of Prey," has escaped and is headed for New York to resume his experiments on the moment of death. Lucas is contacted by the New York police for assistance; the officer enlisting his aid is Lily Rothenberg, who had an affair with him in a previous novel.
Lucas actually is offered two missions. The first is to work on the Bekker case; the second is to ferret out a band of rogue cops who have been practicing a form of vigilante justice. Each case offers Lucas ample opportunity to return to Minneapolis in a coffin.
As in his three previous Lucas Davenport novels, John Sandford has filled "Silent Prey" with a sense of menace, an unusual plot, unexpected violence, solid characters and a particularly frightening villain. His ability to project an aura of evil may rival that of Thomas Harris; if anything, Mr. Sandford is so adept at portraying malevolence that his Lucas Davenport character may @suffer in comparison.
BREAKING WITH TRADITION.
Felice N. Schwartz.
332 pages. $21.95.
Felice N. Schwartz, the author of "Mommy Track," writes this book for "the top executive, the human resources officer, the manager, the business owner and the men and women at work and home." What she is telling them is how the forces of change will sweep women into the mainstream and how women's talent is wasted, and about the roles that men and women take in business.
A primary example of the perception of women in business is "the Riddle of the Rings" -- even the best female job applicants will leave their wedding rings at home before a job interview so that they will not be seen as baby machines; in effect, they pretend not to be women, and it works. Ms. Schwartz deplores this, even though she sees both sides of the business equation: The recruiter is often male and still works under old assumptions that women don't take risks, they don't want to relocate and they are emotionally soft.
Ms. Schwartz has tackled the inner working of business regarding women and shows not only how prejudices hurt women's progress but also "why this is bad for business."
BARBARA SAMSON MILLS