A gripping ride-along with a small-town detective in the midst of a national security crisis.

THE ARARAT ILLUSION

A fast-paced political thriller set during the Reagan presidency.

In Minier’s debut page turner, Vietnam veteran Lt. Michael Page works a fairly routine job with the Santa Barbara Police Department until someone murders the American ambassador to Turkey. When Michael first became a cop over a decade ago, he was called to a hotel where two Turkish consuls were murdered. The connection to the recent event is not lost on him, and soon he receives notes from the unknown madman, threatening to assassinate more federal officials. Dubbed the Poet Killer for his foreboding notes sent to police, this terrorist, who signs his notes Antranik, delights in the morbid game he plays and seeks a place in history. Antranik looks to be retaliating against Turkey’s Armenian genocide of 1915. Persistent Michael tries to decipher Antranik’s poems to figure out where he plans to strike next so he can catch the assassin before more casualties occur. After another prominent figure falls victim, the stakes climb even higher. Even the president isn’t immune to the dangerous Antranik as the suspense rages on in this what-could-have-happened roller-coaster ride based on the actual assassination of two Turkish diplomats in 1973. As the manhunt continues, Antranik’s allegiances and reasons come into question, and his connection to the Russians causes panic among government officials who fear nuclear war. The investigation brings Michael to Lela Drew, a disappointingly one-dimensional love interest who is a graduate student of Armenian history. When romantic feelings develop between them, their lives become entangled, putting them both in danger. The characters are a bit clichéd and predictable, but they are appropriate in this cop drama. It is clear that Minier knows his characters and their world, effectively conveying their nuances, with the exception of Lela. Minier’s simple, engrossing style works well with a narrative rich with historical details. The author skillfully weaves a substantial web of deceit, murder and mystery.

A gripping ride-along with a small-town detective in the midst of a national security crisis. 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615531939

Page Count: 342

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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