A prime read that packs a hefty number of plot twists and characters without getting tangled.

ANAPHYLAXIS

A MEDICAL THRILLER

In this debut medical thriller, the sudden death of a researcher for a biotech company in Colorado leaves everyone wondering: Was it an accident, negligence or murder?

A routine allergy shot for Frank Stevens, Ph.D., has less-than-routine results—he dies from anaphylaxis, a fatal allergic reaction. His colleague and allergist, Lenny, was unable to save him. Now, Lenny is worried about a potential malpractice suit, even though there appear to be a few people who’d want the man dead. Frank had just had a breakthrough with a vaccine to combat cocaine addiction, he was involved in an extramarital affair, and he may even have ties to an accident from 20 years ago. The convincing scene in which Lenny tries to revive Frank becomes the focal point for most of the story and its characters, as the medical thriller competently becomes a legal and procedural thriller, too. A PI and an agent of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation cover most of the investigatory components, which ultimately bring to light gloriously elaborate connections to the death, including Frank’s senator brother-in-law, a technician at the company and a health care provider. But Lenny steals the show. He faces a lawsuit steered by the widow’s politically ambitious brother as well as questioning from a young, ruthless attorney who meticulously examines every detail of Frank's death. In a scorching scene that illuminates both sides of the case, the lawyer attempts to find fault in Lenny’s story: Why didn’t Lenny have the proper medical equipment on hand? Could the easily accessible allergy shots have been contaminated by someone else? Other motives might have been at play—mobsters, for instance, would prefer that addicts continue to rely on cocaine. As the case builds and the suspense grows, Wanderer’s thriller commendably incorporates medical terminology without any dense, unwarranted complexity.

A prime read that packs a hefty number of plot twists and characters without getting tangled.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478159438

Page Count: 342

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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