A rousing, if sometimes unlikely, tale of terrorism and trauma.

Crossing the Red

A BEAR KOTAH NOVEL

A debut thriller tells the story of a veteran haunted by his past who attempts to foil an extremist plot.

A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jim “Night Bear” Kotah prefers to keep to himself as he attempts to reconcile the traumas of his past. “Sometimes I don’t want the ghosts to leave me, not ever,” he says of the people he lost in the wars. “But they won’t let me rest. I just need to give it a rest and get on with my life.” Bear has been largely absent from the buffalo spread run by his Comanche relatives in southwest Oklahoma, but when neighboring rancher Ramiro Jenkins goes back on an agreement to lease the Kotahs’ land, Bear’s cousin comes to ask for the soldier’s assistance. Bear is reluctant to intervene—an old ranch-related romantic wound exists for him beside his psychological ones—but when one of his cousins is killed mysteriously on Jenkins’ land, Bear feels compelled to investigate. What he uncovers goes much deeper than a mere family feud: Jenkins is the ringleader of a gang of Latin American malcontents bent on seeking revenge for America’s imperialist sins. Allying themselves with other world forces that wish to harm the U.S., Jenkins and his crew concoct a plan involving small ships and high-tech mortars striking petrochemical complexes in Galveston Bay. Bear will do all he can to prevent the attack, but first he must find a way to quiet the ghosts of his past. Gibson, a talented storyteller, spins his tale with a level of assurance that keeps the reader with him. While many of the characters and plot points question the limits of credulity, the author executes them in a way that mostly keeps the doubts at bay. Both Bear and his antagonist, Jenkins, make for unusually compelling versions of genre archetypes, and while Gibson mostly retreads familiar territory, there is enough here to make the novel a memorable one. Perhaps more important, there is enough to breed interest in further Bear Kotah adventures.

A rousing, if sometimes unlikely, tale of terrorism and trauma.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5245-0392-5

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 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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