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THE JUDAS TESTAMENT

An explosive Qumran papyrus spirited out of the Thousand Year Reich by its Soviet occupiers surfaces 50 years later as the brass ring in a grandly scaled game of intrigue—and the bane of unassuming Irish linguist Jack Gould's existence. What makes the papyrus—a letter from an Essene leader opposing rapprochement with Rome in the name of Judaic fundamentalism—deadly is its authorship by Jesus, revealed as an orthodox Mosaic zealot rather than as the Messiah. When Jack, responding to an urgent summons from his old friend Iosif Sharanskii in Moscow, agrees to help Iosif smuggle the document out of the country, he finds himself variously pursued by (1) KGB stalwarts, determined to keep their hold on this treasure; (2) the Crux Orientalis, a Catholic group who plan to impeach the document, attributing it to a Zionist conspiracy in order to strengthen their hopes of a new Holy Roman Empire throughout Europe; (3) a covey of right-wing prelates bent on destroying the document in order to preserve the True Church; and (4) an outlaw faction of Catholic priests who want to publish the document to the world. ``Rescued'' repeatedly by allies who turn out to be just as treacherous as the people they're rescuing him from (to the cost of much confusion for both Jack and the reader), Jack eventually finds himself in a Crux Orientalis cross-fire raging around Maria Rosewicz, the woman he loves: on one side, her husband Karl von Freudiger, a Ruhr industrialist who thinks 1945 was just a temporary setback; on the other, her father Stefan, a Stasi survivor planning to groom his grandson for world domination under a new world order. (But don't count the papists out either.) Easterman (Name of the Beast, 1992, etc.) provides an irresistible mÇlange: an attractive (if not overly bright) hero and heroine, international conspiracies, religious paranoia, a corps of double agents whose loyalties can turn on a dime, and an enormous supporting cast, most of whom end up getting executed by each other.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-017768-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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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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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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