A briskly paced thriller that deftly imagines a nightmare scenario.

The Gambit

A debut political thriller that pits Israeli and U.S. military forces against an Iranian government on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As the United States attempts to neutralize Iran’s march toward nuclear capability with economic sanctions and diplomacy, a battle-hardened Israeli government takes a more aggressive tactical approach. It deploys a devastating computer virus, assassinates key Iranian nuclear scientists, and prepares to relocate its top source of insider intelligence, Dr. Ali Bagheri Kani, the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, to Israel by staging a fake assassination. The operation is conducted by an elite Israeli unit, the Sayeret Matkal, which answers to Gen. Tamir Pardo, the head of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. American Col. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is recruited to join the team; he’s a decorated Special Forces soldier attached to the CIA who has a doctorate in Persian studies. After Bagheri is successfully extricated from Iran, he confirms the Israelis’ worst fears: Iran is considerably closer to a nuclear weapon than they thought. Israeli authorities decide to stage a daring attack on several Iranian nuclear facilities, and alert the United States so that its Navy can prepare for battle in the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile, the Iranians, who’ve prepared for years for such an eventuality, initiate a bold response, designed to exploit America’s domestic vulnerabilities. Author Carlson’s plotline is as chilling as it is gripping; his brand of cynical realism has a level of plausibility that’s both impressive and disturbing. There’s no shortage of skillfully rendered military action, and Carlson’s meticulous research into the military and political aspects of his subject matter is extraordinary. Jackson, as a character, sometimes seems overly picturesque: he’s handsome, athletically fit, endlessly brave, charming, hyper-educated—and still impossibly modest, despite it all. One of the highlights of the novel, though, is its depiction of the Iranian side, as it ably articulates their zealotry without robbing them of humanity. For example, Carlson pithily captures the moral psychology of an Iranian colonel: “He was not a killer, as such, and did not enjoy killing merely for the sake of killing. No, Rafsanjani wanted to punish America as a whole.” This is an exciting debut effort that’s certain to interest readers with a taste for contemporary political intrigue.

A briskly paced thriller that deftly imagines a nightmare scenario.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9982594-9-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2016

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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