Resonant characters deciphering a puzzle involving artifacts generate an absorbing tale even if readers already know where...

Army of God

In Hartnett’s debut thriller, an American cop and an Interpol agent scour Europe to verify a potential link between alleged suicides and stolen relics.

Angie Anderson’s seven-year marriage to husband and fellow Stanford professor Andy is full of romantic gestures, like Angie surprising him with his favorite meal. So she’s understandably shocked when police officers arrive at her door claiming Andy’s taken a dive off the Golden Gate Bridge—based on the suicide note left in his abandoned car. This is remarkably similar to what happened with Denver detective Caleb Mathews’ father 15 years earlier, only his dad’s newly dead body just showed up in Amsterdam. Caleb suspects someone’s kidnapped Andy to replace his father, both in the field of bioengineering. It’s a wild speculation, but Angie sees its validity, further surmising that the abduction and murder have something to do with pilfered relics, both over a decade ago and more recently in the Netherlands and Turkey. Caleb and Angie meet in Dublin with Angie’s former roommate, Siobhan Callahan, now with Interpol. They connect other scientists’ questionable suicides with pinched relics, all relating to saints and spanning various countries. The group amasses a plethora of clues, from missing women to chemicals used to render guards unconscious, to find Andy and his abductors. An early introduction to the villains leaves little mystery, but the baddies prove as riveting as the good guys. Caleb and Angie, for starters, get plenty of help, namely from Siobhan’s dad, Tippy, who’s no longer with Interpol but still excels in the field. Billionaire Gabriel Papadakis, meanwhile, who’s unmistakably spearheading the thefts and disappearances, has a rather chilling employee turnover. Subordinate Lucas Weber, on account of his larceny accompanied by excessive killing, may be up for termination, while probable replacement Viktoria busily recruits lackeys. Papadakis’ outlandish purpose, too, revealed before the halfway point, is a doozy. A few scenes with Caleb and Siobhan, involving her other, unrelated case or Caleb teaching her to ride a horse, are extraneous. These moments certainly foster the couple’s personal and professional relationship, but so does their plot-relevant trek from Austria to Moscow—with more subtlety and brevity.

Resonant characters deciphering a puzzle involving artifacts generate an absorbing tale even if readers already know where the pieces go.

Pub Date: April 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62217-720-2

Page Count: 772

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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