A DEADLY AFFECTION

In Overholt’s historical mystery, a young female doctor in early-20th-century New York must solve a bloody murder for which she feels partially responsible.

In 1905 Dr. Genevieve Summerford finished third in her class at John Hopkins only to have her father disapprove of her decision to run a psychology research class for women with emotional trauma—a concerted effort in an emerging field to help people better their lives and prove that thoughts and feelings can influence body functions and health. Eliza Miner, a woman in Genevieve’s study group, confides that she’d had a baby as a teenager that was taken from her by her doctor. Discussing the incident and options of confronting the doctor regarding the location of the now 20-year-old child, Genevieve’s advice is misconstrued, and the following day the doctor is found brutally murdered—with Eliza standing over him covered in blood. Desperate to prove the innocence of her patient, find the real killer and salve her guilt for the inadvertent part she may have played, Genevieve must overcome a mountain of circumstantial evidence, confront a very powerful and influential family and subvert the stubbornness of the investigating officer who refuses to look any further than Eliza Miner. When Genevieve runs into Simon Shaw, a sordid reminder of her painful past, she realizes that the man who broke her heart may be the only one who can give her hope. Genevieve’s story is compelling, from her difficult childhood that encompasses the travesty of bearing the blame for the death of her younger brother to the tragedy of losing her innocence to a naive teenage indiscretion, with both bearing equal weight of guilt. Though she longs for the acceptance and forgiveness of her father, Genevieve’s unwavering determination to her profession allows her to remain steadfast and true. Replete with formal gowns and annual winter balls, Overholt’s novel successfully captures the feel and tone of 20th-century New York in a deeply pleasing, nostalgically modern way. A solid plot pulls the reader in with little effort, while strong, flowing prose and captivating characters provide the incentive to remain to the very last page. In Dr. Genevieve Summerford, Overholt has beautifully rendered a symbol of strength and perseverance in a time of severe gender bias. A well-paced, 20th-century whodunit full of dark secrets and fascinating intrigue that easily keeps pace with 21st-century standards.

 

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984841301

Page Count: 454

Publisher: Copper Bottom

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2011

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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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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