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Falcon Down

From the Falcon Series series , Vol. 1

This first installment chronicling the adventures of Maj. Jacob Kelly turns out to be an undisputed success.

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An Air Force pilot with a few skills not in his official dossier finds himself on the run in a hostile nation in the first thriller of this trilogy.

It’s 1986, and Maj. Jacob “Falcon” Kelly is at the top of his game. A capable fighter jock, Kelly gets recruited into a top-secret program that requires more than just flight abilities. These proficiencies, as well as the fluency in Russian he kept secret from the Air Force to avoid intelligence postings, come in handy when he is shot down over the Bering Strait and whisked off to a debriefing center deep inside the Soviet Union for interrogation and eventual liquidation. He befriends a fellow Russian-speaking prisoner named Oswald Simmons (“everyone just calls me Oz”), a scientist, and they use Morse code to secretly communicate. Before long, Kelly spots an opportunity to flee. He tells Oz about his escape plan: “Gonna check out and find a different hotel. Don’t care for the amenities here.” Oz eagerly offers the dubious Kelly his assistance (“Need some help with your luggage? Take me with you! I can be handy in a scrap”). Soon all of Kelly’s talents and knowledge that the Soviets didn’t know about get used against them, as the body count spirals upward and he comes ever closer to achieving his goal. Cobb (Falcon Strike, 2014, etc.) has clearly done his research on multiple counts and, like Tom Clancy or Dale Brown, masterly intertwines military technology and behavior into a tightly plotted narrative in which every development follows logically and smoothly from what came before. This deft touch extends to the characters: Kelly, while remaining supremely adept, makes mistakes and gets frustrated in his efforts to run, making him more relatable than a stereotypical Special Forces operative. And the primary antagonists, such as Maj. Gen. Chernikov, are not cartoonishly evil monsters but professional military figures with doubts and misgivings of their own. Occasionally, Cobb slips in a little heavy-handed religious material, but except for one instance where a professor’s conversion story told to Kelly edges into proselytizing, the author manages to keep most of the Christian-themed material relevant to the story and characters.

This first installment chronicling the adventures of Maj. Jacob Kelly turns out to be an undisputed success.

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9848875-1-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doorway Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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THE RUMOR

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Hilderbrand’s latest cautionary tale exposes the toxic—and hilarious—impact of gossip on even the most sophisticated of islands.

Eddie and Grace Pancik are known for their beautiful Nantucket home and grounds, financed with the profits from Eddie’s thriving real estate company (thriving before the crash of 2008, that is). Grace raises pedigreed hens and, with the help of hunky landscape architect Benton Coe, has achieved a lush paradise of fowl-friendly foliage. The Panciks’ teenage girls, Allegra and Hope, suffer invidious comparisons of their looks and sex appeal, although they're identical twins. The Panciks’ friends the Llewellyns (Madeline, a blocked novelist, and her airline-pilot husband, Trevor) invested $50,000, the lion’s share of Madeline’s last advance, in Eddie’s latest development. But Madeline, hard-pressed to come up with catalog copy, much less a new novel, is living in increasingly straightened circumstances, at least by Nantucket standards: she can only afford $2,000 per month on the apartment she rents in desperate hope that “a room of her own” will prime the creative pump. Construction on Eddie’s spec houses has stalled, thanks to the aforementioned crash. Grace, who has been nursing a crush on Benton for some time, gives in and a torrid affair ensues, which she ill-advisedly confides to Madeline after too many glasses of Screaming Eagle. With her agent and publisher dropping dire hints about clawing back her advance and Eddie “temporarily” unable to return the 50K, what’s a writer to do but to appropriate Grace’s adultery as fictional fodder? When Eddie is seen entering her apartment (to ask why she rented from a rival realtor), rumors spread about him and Madeline, and after the rival realtor sneaks a look at Madeline’s rough draft (which New York is hotly anticipating as “the Playboy Channel meets HGTV”), the island threatens to implode with prurient snark. No one is spared, not even Hilderbrand herself, “that other Nantucket novelist,” nor this magazine, “the notoriously cranky Kirkus.”

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33452-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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