A compelling, politically rich thriller.

The Piratization of Daniel Barnes

In McGlothlin’s debut novel, a lovelorn journalist becomes ensnared in the lives of modern-day pirates in Somalia.

Daniel Barnes has arrived in Mombasa, Kenya, from Washington, D.C., hoping to enter neighboring Somalia. Although he has minimal experience as a journalist, he plans to get a story that will not only make his career, but also convince his childhood sweetheart, Bally, to choose him over her fiance. No official transport will enter the war-torn nation, so Daniel must secure passage by boat. He eventually hires Capt. Zakia, who takes the journalist on his yacht. When pirates overtake the vessel, Daniel is knocked out and later awakens in a “five-by-five cell made of a heinous amalgamation of chicken [wire] and barbed wire.” After about six weeks, he’s driven to the Somali hinterland by associates of Amir Sharif, a man who helps kidnap victims get home. Daniel receives three months of regular food and exercise, but then he’s suddenly shackled and brought to a slave auction. There, a pirate captain, Sayyid, bids $20,000 for the strong looking white man and soon tells him, “Your story of me will put my picture on cereal box like Kobe Bryant.” McGlothlin’s unpredictable debut is a superb portrait of the bombed-out region surrounding Mogadishu, where, as Sayyid says, “death...is a sunset. It bring darkness but happen everyday.” It’s also a classic adventure story, during which chaos transforms the seemingly average protagonist into a formidable hero. The characters—from Sayyid’s crew members to a manipulative sheikh to World Health Organization medic Caitlin—all play specific roles in creating the new Daniel. Readers will grit their teeth at the severe narrative turns, including animal fights in a Roman-style arena and Daniel’s increasingly savage behavior to stay alive (including ear-biting, shooting, and harpooning). There’s great moral heft in the situations in which Sayyid tries to retain his “Somali Robin Hood” status while his Sharia-following brother, Yousef, demands that they work for Allah. The answer to the question of whether Daniel is “the cure or the cancer” for the pirate crew is an epic one.

A compelling, politically rich thriller.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9890488-6-6

Page Count: 282

Publisher: MountainLion Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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