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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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