CODE OF DARKNESS

A superhuman capable of extreme feats of speed and strength must escape the NSA and his demons.

Rage; the very word conjures a directed fury—animate, precise, irate. To the low-level criminals and hoodlums of Chicago, Rage is a very real person, distributing justice on the nighttime streets with extreme vengeance. One of these acts captures the attention of widowed Chicago police officer Larry Parker, but Rage disappears before Parker can speak with him. Several weeks later, it’s Parker’s extreme misfortune to run into the seemingly bionic vigilante a second time, and Parker is drawn into a web of murders, cover-ups and national security secrets for which his police department training could never have prepared him. A secret even to most in the intelligence community, Rage is a product of a government experiment to reprogram the human genome and create a being who can do the impossible—leap buildings, throw vehicles, knock down walls with a single punch. Now, almost 30 years after this experiment began, the government wants their test subjects back, and an elite SWAT team has been deployed to capture Rage—but little does he know that there are two others like him. One is rogue, living as an assassin for hire, and the other is a loyal solider of the federal government; it’s this second soldier whom Rage, Parker and their cohorts must defeat to keep their freedom. The action traverses much of the Eastern United States, and, all too often, much of the storyline; the book features numerous taut combat and chase sequences, but ultimately lacks emotional depth. Several scenes of dreamlike intimacy are attempted between Rage and his beautiful female acquaintance, but the interactions and dialogue feel contrived and one-dimensional. Similarly, Rage often wrestles with his conscience, pondering whether his numerous killings are borne out of justice or bloodlust, but these moments never go beyond the surface and the philosophical issue is never satisfactorily resolved. Comparisons to Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy (and many superheroes in American popular culture, for that matter) are certainly warranted. Readers will find that those books offer deeper looks into the world of an alienated, weaponized human being. A sharp thriller in many aspects, but lacks the robustness and depth of many classics of the genre.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-1257802630

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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