Irresistible lead characters will likely draw fans and leave them looking for a third adventure with Rob and Mike, despite...

FINAL CALL

A NOVEL FROM THE EASY MONEY SERIES

Establishing an airfreight business between the U.S. and China becomes a struggle for money and power in the second volume of Green’s Easy Money series (Company of Deceit, 2001).

Aviation veteran Capt. Saunders is starting a freight airline with flights to China and hires pilot and business owner Rob Marshall to locate planes. He and his assistant and friend, Mike, travel to California and soon realize that the proposed company, still in the process of being financed, needs more than just aircraft, and that some of those involved are dodgy individuals more interested in politics than aviation. Green’s novel is a character-driven work. Returning stars Rob and Mike are solid leads, particularly Mike, whose Cajun charm shines when the novel visits his home state of Louisiana. He gives the romantically invested Kathy a tour of the French Quarter. The villains are appropriately disreputable, including the enigmatic and possibly mob-connected Mr. C; an attorney who’s also the company’s CFO; and a governor who doesn’t trust or want Rob and Mike’s assistance. The sometimes unclear plot engages less than its characters. The bad guys are unmistakable—they’re greedy and devious—but their actions merely slow the bankrolling of the airline and don’t provide much dramatic conflict. One of the few potent scenes doesn’t occur until near the end of the story. In addition, the generally well-written narrative sometimes sags in its descriptions of mundane action. For example, one scene describes everything the governor’s aide does while driving: signaling, turning, rolling down the window and watching a gate open. There are rarely indications of time passing, e.g., Rob’s love interest, Sharon, agrees to call him, and his cellphone rings in the very next sentence. Missing or extraneous quotation marks can render dialogue hard to follow. Unless, of course, it’s Cajun Mike speaking: “There’s sho’ a lots of swamp water and cypress trees down there.”

Irresistible lead characters will likely draw fans and leave them looking for a third adventure with Rob and Mike, despite the novel’s slow spots.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479202003

Page Count: 212

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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