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

JACK FROST

From the A Detective Jack Stratton Novel series

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 28, 2018

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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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