An engaging thriller about dogfighting that features two appealing heroines.

Death by Dog

From the Special Crimes Team series , Vol. 5

The Special Crimes Team must crack a new case that soon leads to murder in this fifth installment of a series.

Walksfar (Beyond the Silence, 2016, etc.) continues chronicling the adventures of the Special Crimes Team through the story of heroine Sgt. Nita Slowater. In the previous novel in the series, Nita and her partner, intrepid reporter Dawn Samira, survived a deadly arson attack on their home in Seattle. Now, the two have moved back into their repaired house, and Nita and the other members of the crime team take on a new case when a teenage informant stumbles on a dogfighting ring. Dawn, who works for the Seattle Times, assembles a group of street teens to try to investigate the ring (“Those kids can go places and they know people that are off limits to any cop, including you, Nita”). Meanwhile, Nita and the others on her team, including her boss, Lt. Michael Williams, and computer guru Ronald Arneau, zero in on the perpetrators, who may be involved in other criminal activities, including drug trafficking and gambling. But the case gets deadlier when people who owned or purchased fighting dogs suddenly start turning up dead. When team members find themselves in danger, Nita, Dawn, and the rest of the gang must work fast to save their own lives. Walksfar has molded an enjoyable narrative here (if anything that focuses on the gruesome crime of dogfighting can be pleasurable). She crafts a story that is complicated without being incoherent, and she peppers the tale with superb, specific details about Seattle. She also focuses the novel on fully fleshed-out, complex characters. Dawn and Nita especially are captivating heroines; as a three-dimensional couple, with individual flaws but ultimately a deep love for each other, they are refreshingly realistic and give the narrative emotional substance. Not all the characters are so fully drawn, especially when it comes to the bad guys; there are too many villains who walk around spouting lines like “What the hell do you want? This is private property.” The novel also draws on elements of the previous books in the series; there are a few subplots, such as Nita’s wrestling with her Native American heritage, that are more developed in other volumes. Still, readers should be able to savor this tale on its own.

An engaging thriller about dogfighting that features two appealing heroines.

Pub Date: April 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5237-5787-9

Page Count: 394

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...


 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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