A steamy tale and beguiling thriller, with plenty of local color and some provocative twists.


A young landscaper gets caught up in the drug trade in this debut novel.

Bobby Patrick is a 24-year-old in Austin, Texas, whose days are spent getting high, swimming in the lake, and dreaming about how to get ahead. A dyslexic, he failed to get through college, as words on a page “ran every which direction, as if something big was chasing them.” He has a new girlfriend, Katherine “Katie” Ann Smith, a waitress at a local diner, and the two are getting serious and talking marriage. Within their relatively small social universe, which is largely made up of marijuana dealers and thieves who have wealthy parents, Bobby and Katie navigate through various personal dramas. Katie’s not-so-nice best friend, Sara, slept with Bobby once. Katie doesn’t know about it, and Sara is holding it over Bobby’s head. Katie harbors a skeleton or two in her closet as well. While Bobby struggles to save money as a landscaper, he and Katie plan to open a restaurant. Katie has an affluent lawyer father, but there is a complication. Sara gets arrested and wants Bobby to bail her out and pay for an attorney. Just as Bobby realizes Sara may have gotten mixed up with the wrong people in the drug trade, he faces an uncertain future as he is drawn further into a mess that may have more to do with Katie than he could ever have imagined. Burlison sets his story in the heady days of the early 1990s in Austin, though his characters are perhaps more aloof than one would expect of the Generation X social scene. But they are certainly Texans. Bobby, an East Texan, is a scrappy self-starter and problem solver, while Katie and Sara are forthright and controlling, but still looking to daddy to bail them out. Burlison manages to make Bobby a sympathetic protagonist, even though the characters here are involved with drugs by their own choice. The winding and increasingly sinister plot holds some exciting scenes. But the author relies too much on small talk and continual dialogue, and he takes his time shaping the storyline.

A steamy tale and beguiling thriller, with plenty of local color and some provocative twists.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969696-0-4

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Barton Creek Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2016

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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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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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