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JACK FROST

From the A Detective Jack Stratton Novel series

An unequivocal series highlight with a laudable blend of action and mystery.

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Investigating a reality TV show that’s facing threats and accidents, PI Jack Stratton finds himself snowbound with a murderer in the continuation of Greyson’s (The Girl Who Lived, 2017, etc.) thriller series.

Ex-cop Jack and his fiancee, Alice, jump at the chance to do investigative work for McAlister Insurance. The undercover gig involves the reality competition show Planet Survival, which lost a crew member in an avalanche last year and more recently received a note threatening other crew members’ lives. There’s no discernible connection between these events, but the insurance company wants Jack and Alice to ensure they’re unrelated. Producer Leah Coleman, however, wants Jack to travel solo to Mount Minuit with the cast and crew. Alice isn’t happy about Jack going alone, but she can look into the alleged accident at home, and there’s no Wi-Fi or cell service on the mountain. Moreover, she has a lot on her plate. She asks Kiku Inuzuka, a dangerous but dependable female yakuza (Japanese mobster), to help track down the man. On Mount Minuit, Jack poses as the crew’s gofer, enduring bully/cameraman Ollie and the show’s insufferable host, Gavin Maddox. But a menace looms: someone is leaving more threatening messages and sabotaging gear. Aggravating their troubles is a blizzard, which makes it exceedingly difficult to search for the people who go missing, some of whom later turn up dead. While Greyson’s preceding installment was a breezy mystery, this one significantly cranks up the action. The crew, for one, has avalanche charges, which can control when a potential snowslide will occur and likewise pose a constant threat with a killer on the loose. The author fills the pages with atmosphere befitting the turbulent blizzard, including Jack discovering unknown footprints in the snow or short-roped with contestant Chiri during a particularly furious wind. At the same time, there’s a sturdy whodunit running throughout: as Jack struggles to keep himself and others alive, Alice is unraveling the bizarre circumstances of a crew member’s avalanche death. She inches closer to a killer’s identity, which is not immediately revealed to readers. Adding to the already dense mystery is Kiku’s advancing manhunt. The ragtag crew generates myriad murder suspects but also provides fodder for a biting critique of reality shows. The magic of television, for example, presents one individual as wholly capable when the opposite is true. And while Jack, as gofer, incurs blame for most on-set mishaps, the former military man could theoretically be a contestant, using his skills to survive severe weather and a nameless murderer. There are shades of humor, though it’s mostly dark. Perhaps the best moment is Jack assuring everyone he’s not the killer by pointing out that he could—but hasn’t—killed every person in the room.

An unequivocal series highlight with a laudable blend of action and mystery.

Pub Date: April 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68399-083-3

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Greyson Media Associates

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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