An intelligent, energetic tale rife with double-crossings and espionage.

THE EXPANSION

The chief engineer of a Panama Canal project unwittingly becomes immersed in political conspiracy and implicated in murder in this debut thriller.

The chance to work on expanding the Panama Canal is an amazing opportunity for British geomatic engineer Max Burns. It comes courtesy of childhood friend Godfredo, whose father is Francisco “Paco” Roco. Paco’s CISCO Construction represents Britain in the bidding for the project. Max is wary of Paco, who physically abuses his son. Meanwhile, Max’s hydrogeologist colleague Alexandra Wong quickly tires of endless parties and prostitutes in Panama as the British group preps its design for the bid. The bidding war soon entails illicit deeds from Paco and the U.S. engineering consortium, each trying to undercut the other. Even after CISCO wins and Max becomes chief engineer, tensions remain high. A U.S. agency believes someone newly associated with Max is a particular country’s attempt to sabotage the project and threaten America’s national security. Max is in a precarious spot, now a scapegoat for both CISCO’s dire financial state and something much worse: a project-related murder. He turns to Karis Deen, biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (and romantic interest), for help, but she’s been keeping a rather sizable secret from Max. Martin’s novel is a smart, rousing story condensed into a relatively quick read with short and sprightly scenes and chapters. Much of the suspense is relegated to the final act; the author uses the preceding pages to focus on what Karis has been hiding. It’s worth the wait, though, with the protagonist in peril and a prime candidate for a murder frame-up, all part of someone’s political coverup. Max’s naiveté (staying with the project despite warning signs, like Godfredo not showing up for meetings), coupled with losing his parents years ago in a helicopter crash, earns him sympathy. But it also makes him less intriguing than some of the other characters, especially Godfredo, who’s torn between loyalty to his father and his unmistakable hatred of the man.

An intelligent, energetic tale rife with double-crossings and espionage.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-911525-29-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2017

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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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