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Muddy Mouth

A DOG PARK MYSTERY

From the Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries series , Vol. 5

An entertaining and well-crafted addition to a dog-centric mystery series.

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Newsome (Sneak Thief, 2015, etc.) returns to the adventures of artist and canine lover Lia Anderson.

In this fifth Dog Park Mystery, Lia, the committed owner of two pooches—a miniature schnauzer and a golden retriever—is finally dating Detective Peter Dourson. She met Peter when he investigated the death of her boyfriend at the beginning of the series. But Lia and Peter haven’t had enough time to enjoy each other’s company because she has been commissioned to build a float for the Northside’s famous Fourth of July Parade. Shaped like “a giant Browning Buckmark .22 pistol,” the float means to celebrate the work of local Cincinnati crime novelist Lucas Cross, even though he vanished while attending an authors’ convention in Austin, Texas, at the beginning of June. It’s a strange situation, but, as Lia notes, even if Cross is still missing by the time of the parade, the gun “will only be in slightly worse taste than the usual Northside parade float. [Cross’] books are coming out next month, regardless.” When the accountant of the Cross-affiliated knitting club that commissioned the float is inexplicably attacked one night in an alley, the sense of foul play begins to grow. Lia must put down her artist’s cap and return to her role as amateur investigator in hopes of discovering the truth behind Cross’ disappearance before anyone gets killed. Newsome writes with flair and humor, balancing the tension of the novel’s mystery against the lighthearted backdrop of the Mount Air dog park. The charmingly idiosyncratic characters—human and animal both—set the book apart from more noirish works, and the slight goofiness (parade floats, knitting circles) puts the reader pleasantly off balance. The stakes are never so high that the reader feels anxious, but the author delivers an inventive plot and a sharp and compelling protagonist. Dog-obsessed readers in particular should enjoy this riff on the whodunit genre that keeps its canines central to the action in a way pet owners likely feel is lacking in other works of fiction.

An entertaining and well-crafted addition to a dog-centric mystery series.

Pub Date: April 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9963742-4-8

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Two Pup Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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FIREFLY LANE

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

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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