Robert Bly seems to be on the warpath in this debut novel of father-love digging in its heels against a berserk free-lance terrorist. When his son Hugo gets maimed by a bomb in a Paris cafe, American futures speculator Michael Collins—long divorced from Hugo's French mother, Veronique—goes after the bomber, a South American terrorist named Diego. But after he bungles his attempt on Diego's life— stalking and gut-shooting him but not fatally—he's expelled from France, then gets a note in the mail: ``FIRST HIM, THEN YOU.'' Who can protect Hugo from Diego and get Collins another shot at him? The Mossad, of course, and Collins promises imperturbable Shima, his contact, $20 million for the job. Now an intermission while Collins and his souped-up computer program plunge coolly on the international currency markets, netting the stake but also bringing the speculator coincidentally to the attention of Diego's secret backer—Gunther Waffen, ex-Nazi, ex-Stasi, who's bankrolling a wide-ranging variety of terrorist attacks in order to drive international bankers from the field so that he can single-handedly devalue the dollar, pausing only for frequent, detailed sex with Diego's second-in-command, nubile Ileana (quite a contrast with Collins's chastely described couplings with loyal, irrelevant Sarah). There'll be more rat-a-tat-tat stalkings, kidnappings, an airline hijacking, and the obligatory trap for Diego, with Collins and Hugo as the heavily armed bait, before a blissful fade-out—when the kid, who's only 14, catches the eye of a decorative waitress and his father winks and asks him to be home for breakfast. Lots of one-line paragraphs, bang-bang action, and gratuitous sex, some of it pretty kinky (terrorist bondage, Stasi threesomes, etc.). Happy Father's Day.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55972-126-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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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