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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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