Readers will find this crackerjack thriller hard to put down.


A hired killer desperately tries to stay one step ahead of a kingpin’s goons in this novel.

From pedophiles to rapists, Lou Braga disposes of “the garbage the justice system leaves by the curb.” But at the age of 68, the efficient killer is at high risk of a stroke or heart attack. A doctor emphatically urges him to get bypass surgery: “A convenient time is now.” But at present, Braga relates, “Convenient isn’t a word that springs to mind. I have a ruthless crime boss who wants me dead, a duffel bag full of stolen cash, a psycho who thinks he’s a renegade Indian warrior stalking me, and the grandson I never knew I had.” Plus, there is his estranged, substance-abusing daughter, whose life he has put in peril by stealing a half-million dollars 25 years ago from the dreaded Benny Epstein, “the kind of guy who never plays by the rules, always wins, and leaves death in his wake.” Epstein talks the talk (“You probably heard about me. About how I hate big mouths?” he threatens a disrespectful underling. “About what happens to people who have them?”). And though he lives in an assisted living facility, he operates his business “like a geriatric godfather,” according to Braga. Convinced that Epstein is responsible for the car accident that claimed his beloved girlfriend’s life, Braga is determined that for once he will get to see the kingpin lose. But first, he must reconnect with his daughter, Mia, and convince her to get out of town; rescue his dog that Epstein ordered kidnapped; and go up against a number of the crime boss’s vicious henchmen. The title of nationally syndicated cartoonist Summers’ (The Dark and the Dead, 2018, etc.) third novel seems to be baiting snarky critics, but downhill this thriller isn’t. Fast, yes; the pace rarely flags, beginning with Braga’s racing to get to his daughter before Epstein’s thugs do. There are several brutally suspenseful set pieces. Once readers know what the killers are capable of, it’s doubly effective when the author leaves their dirty work to the audience’s imagination. Less successful are the random chapters that provide other characters’ perspectives.

Readers will find this crackerjack thriller hard to put down.

Pub Date: June 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-310526-7

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...


Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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