Newcomer Tristram comes racing out of the gate with this bold, splashy debut.



Anyone looking to take a walk on the wild side will relish this fiercely erotic debut.

In the jittery aftermath of 9/11, two strangers have a tryst. He’s a married man with daughters, a Muslim who has been drawing hostile glances since the attacks. She’s the ex-Catholic widow of an American Jew killed by his Arab captors because of his religion; the incident (never detailed) outraged the American public and put the widow on the front pages. He needs a break from the monotony of married life; her motivations are more complex. She’s sexually hungry, keen to end her celibacy on this first anniversary of her husband’s murder. A Muslim holds out no prospects of becoming a life partner (good), and represents “forbidden fruit” (better). They rendezvous at a spooky beachfront hotel on the Pacific. Tristram alternates viewpoints as the pair embark on an all-night roller-coaster, both mindful that there are four people in the room, counting a dead husband and a living wife. They have different sexual tastes. His orgasm is messy. Hers is an astonishment. Misconceptions abound. She thinks he’s an Arab. No, he’s from Persia: Persians are not Arabs; he’s a naturalized American, and secular to boot. They break for dinner and are seated with another couple; the man, a drunken loudmouth, threatens the “Arab.” Back in their room, they find themselves exchanging roles. Now the widow dominates, blindfolding the Muslim and binding his wrists and ankles. It’s all playful, isn’t it? Once the spanking starts and the widow draws blood, the Muslim cannot be sure, and when she forces him to leave an ambiguous message on his wife’s answering machine, uncertainty turns into terror. Tristram does a fine job of keeping the reader on a knife-edge. Our uneasiness over the contrived setup fades as the bedroom furies take over in a swirl of desire and disgust, magic and menace.

Newcomer Tristram comes racing out of the gate with this bold, splashy debut.

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-10390-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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