An enjoyable zigzagging plot, though it’s the rather sensational Holly who leaves the strongest impression.


In Chisholm and Kim’s debut legal thriller, a Korean-American attorney works multiple, possibly linked, high-stakes cases.

Holly Park, dismayed after receiving no acknowledgment for a multimillion dollar case she brought to her firm, leaves for the more modest American Legal Services in Koreatown in Los Angeles. There, she meets the Dumok, Koreatown’s reputed “godfather.” He asks Holly to find his wife, Nara Song, if she’s alive. He believes Nara and their child died in childbirth decades earlier, but recent rumors suggest otherwise. Holly’s other client, Kendall Taylor, still wants to know why her ex-husband, Wolf Linser, left her years before. Wolf is seven years into a prison sentence for sex with his underage stepdaughter, Naomi. Kendall, however, has doubts on that conviction and enlists Holly to look into Wolf’s suspicious current wife, Alexis Lee. Around the same time, cops arrest Naomi for the stabbing death of a local councilman. Delving into these cases, Holly exposes the occasional connection between clients and stirs up quite a few secrets. She also catches the wrong kind of attention. Someone, in order to halt her investigation, wants to make certain Holly has an “accident.” The authors’ fragmented narrative, with seemingly unrelated subplots, eventually fuses into a labyrinthine mystery. The protagonist boasts a distinctive heritage, making her a virtual loner. Boss Kate Hong mocks Holly for speaking only a modicum of Korean, while others think she is Chinese. Holly, a deft professional, conducts lengthy interrogations with Wolf in jail and excels in the disappointingly short courtroom scenes. Though the mystery sometimes relies on coincidences, there’s a plethora of surprises, and not merely regarding Holly’s cases. Kate, for example, is doing something at American Legal Services that the FBI frowns upon. The authors fill their pages with striking, unforgettable metaphors; inmate Wolf is described as “skittish, like a rescue animal.”

An enjoyable zigzagging plot, though it’s the rather sensational Holly who leaves the strongest impression.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61296-972-5

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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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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