A novel to be savored more than once, written with the same languorous, rumbling passion of Paul Newman and Joanne...


Looking behind propriety’s lace-curtain gentility into the hardwoods of sin, Brookhouse (Loving Ryan, 2010, etc.) offers pure Southern noir. 

It’s 1960, and Francis Finnegan Butler is approaching 30 when Belle, widow of Judge Timon Spier, dies. Called Judge since he "was too big for his britches because he had money and power and didn’t have to sully himself with practicing law," Judge raised Finn after the 14-year-old boy was abandoned by his mother, even sending him to a prestigious local school, the Academy. Now Finn teaches there, and he's voted to admit the school's first black student. That upsets Delia, the oldest Spier sister, but it doesn’t matter to Annabel, next youngest, nor Caroline. Brookhouse writes memorable characters: cleareyed Finn, of course, and Annabel, who seduced him at 15 and still lures him to bed; Henry Broken-ground, an Indian full of secrets; Erskine, jaded yet progressive newspaper editor; Danielle, his reporter, who loves Finn enough to wait out his fascination with Annabel; Buck, a hick Bull Connor, who inherited his daddy’s sheriff’s office; and Lester and Tracy, lawyers who unlock the mysteries of Schilling Club and a fur coat flaunted by a cross-dressing pastor. The plot follows the impending school integration, with Finn’s house burned and threats rumbling, but like mist in the pines, the mysteries binding Finn and the Spiers together hover over the tale. Delia bars Finn from Red Sticks, the family mansion, but Finn can't rest until he understands why his mother abandoned him and why the Judge gave him a home. A layered work, mottled and shifting like visions through antique glass, shadowed by ever lurking violence, as if written by a Southern-born Jim Harrison.

A novel to be savored more than once, written with the same languorous, rumbling passion of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s film The Long Hot Summer.

Pub Date: March 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9798226-5-0

Page Count: 122

Publisher: Safe Harbor

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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