by A.C. Frieden ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 1, 2013
Frieden has churned out a solid espionage novel that respectfully employs a real-world tragedy to great effect.
In Frieden’s (Tranquility Denied, 2007, etc.) second Jonathan Brooks thriller, the maritime lawyer, looking into a mysterious drowning, finds himself in the midst of competing international spies and agencies.
It’s August 2005, and Hurricane Katrina is making its way to New Orleans. Jonathan Brooks, skeptical of the impending storm, is slow to evacuate, but soon has good reason for his delay: Mariya, a dangerous Russian spy who helped Jonathan a decade ago, has asked him to check the morgue for her nephew, Igor, who supposedly drowned. A deceased Asian man there is clearly not related to the Russian woman, although the attorney, for reasons not entirely apparent, falsely identifies the body. But as Katrina lays siege to New Orleans, Jonathan is stuck inside the Crescent City before he can get any info to the Russian woman. It’s abundantly clear that a coverup has begun when Jonathan and the pathologist, who’ve deduced that the corpse was a crewman, are attacked by unknown assailants. Jonathan finds the vessel on which the dead man may have been stationed, and he and Mariya head to Panama on a mission so covert that even Mariya isn’t entirely aware of the details—but she knows that something is making the Russians nervous. The author has concocted a labyrinthine but diverting spy story; various players—Mossad, North Korea and a couple of CIA assets—are given airtime, but their involvement isn’t wholly clarified until the end. Jonathan is the focus, and his story, with Hurricane Katrina filling the first half of the novel, is first-rate. The real-world setting is resounding, particularly because Katrina is palpable; its “gusts of wind” and sky “an ominous charcoal hue” are early signs of the inevitable devastation to follow. The novel’s latter half sustains an overall uneasiness by an uncertainty surrounding Mariya; Jonathan never fully trusts her. The Russians, meanwhile, have lost a few agents, and Jonathan helps them, paving the way for his more active role in the frenetic action sequences. But none of the gunfights or villains is a match for Hurricane Katrina. The storm renders an entire city helpless.Frieden has churned out a solid espionage novel that respectfully employs a real-world tragedy to great effect.
Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013
Page Count: 468
Publisher: Avendia Publishing
Review Posted Online: May 10, 2014
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.
"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
Pub Date: June 15, 1951
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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