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


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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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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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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