THE TENTH PLAGUE

A fleet and dramatic, if far-fetched, tale of global conflict.

A political thriller that imagines a world brought to the brink of nuclear war by an Iranian plot to attack Israel and the United States.

Col. Arshad Sassani is a high-ranking Iranian intelligence officer who’s also a valuable informant for Israel. He’s been funneling the Mossad details about Iran’s nuclear capabilities and ambitions. After he reveals a plot to launch missiles against major cities in Israel (Tel Aviv) and the United States (Washington, D.C., and New York City), the Israeli government dispatches Maj. Yaacov “Jake” Rafaeli, a top Mossad agent, to extract Sassani. Israeli authorities believe the planned attack will be nearly impossible to prevent by conventional military means, so they hatch a plan to use a deadly biological weapon to pre-emptively wipe out Iran’s entire population. However, the plan would also affect the majority of the surrounding region—14 nations in total. Israeli scientists develop an antidote to protect their own people, and their government tries to blackmail the United States into assisting in the operation by threatening to release the virus on American soil. Then Shannon Parks, the deputy director of the CIA, brokers a deal with Mossad head Shlomo Mizrahi to take out Iran’s nuclear missiles instead. Meanwhile, Iran races to find and silence Sassani and arrest and torture his family members to assess the damage he’s done. Debut author Levy sets the story in 2028, a world that’s seen a brutal reprisal of the 9/11 attacks on America, ceaseless turmoil in the Middle East, and a bellicose Russia, still led by a ruthless Vladimir Putin. The prose is clear and crisp, and the action is relentless, fueled by a combination of brooding cynicism and the imminent prospect of catastrophe. Overall, this is a bombastic and cinematic thriller, so it’s unsurprising that it abandons any sense of political plausibility from the start. Also, the dialogue can be breathlessly melodramatic at times, as when an Israeli scientist describes the biological weapon: “Gentlemen, Plague Ten is truly the incarnate Angel of Death.”

A fleet and dramatic, if far-fetched, tale of global conflict.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73291-392-9

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Chickadee Prince Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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