A commendable procedural, with a superlative protagonist and supporting cast.

A DEADLY RECOLLECTION

BULLETS FROM BROOKLYN

The case of a murdered professional killer prompts a Massachusetts cop to focus his investigation on the individuals who hired the assassin in this thriller.

Detective Lt. Bill Coine’s boss, John Desmond, sends him to Quincy Memorial Cemetery, the site of an apparent body dump. Lying in an open grave is an unidentified male victim. Based on the man’s gloves and accompanying high-quality gun with a silencer, Coine determines the victim was a professional hit man. Furthermore, there’s evidence he had been shooting at someone in the cemetery. Police later ID the man as Joe Buscada, a well-known, mob-affiliated assassin working out of Brooklyn. Coine suspects a link to another individual with mob ties: Boston bookie Harold “Smokey” Goldman, who recently died in a car wreck. The hunch pays off: A medical examiner’s discovery of a bullet hole indicates murder. It seems Buscada killed Goldman before his subsequent target managed to off the hit man. Interestingly, Coine finds a bevy of connections between Goldman and Dan Riley, an attorney who tried to prevent the medical examiner’s autopsy of the bookie. Riley may have been the other target, but he stays mum, even after he miraculously survives a second assassin’s bullet. While Desmond is dead set on proving Riley is Buscada’s killer, Coine starts looking for whoever hired the assassins. This is especially vital once it’s clear that hit man No. 2 still has Riley in his sights. With help from an old Army buddy at the FBI, Coine goes after the baddies he believes are calling the shots in Brooklyn. A prequel to Hanrahan’s (Downsized, 2017) preceding novel featuring Coine, this story follows his last case before retirement. As in the earlier book, the author excels at moving the perspective among an assortment of characters. Coine is a noteworthy protagonist; his deductions are quick (and believable) and he mentors novice trooper John Neiberg. But other characters stand out as well, from antagonistic and rather incompetent Lt. George Petruska to Dr. Rebecca White, who eventually befriends Riley. Hanrahan distinguishes the myriad characters primarily through memorable dialogue: Coine has a catchword (“Bingo!”) and the Brooklyn villains sport a discernible lilt (“Hey walyo, dat’s no way to tawk to your big brudder”). Regarding plot, there isn’t much mystery, at least for readers. For example, an early scene reveals Goldman’s death as murder while the assassination attempt at the cemetery is likewise no secret. But Coine’s meticulous investigation is engrossing, including steps such as the detective fighting for a judge to pass a Motion for Autopsy. It aptly displays the cop’s resolve, which never wavers. The story is furthered enhanced by Riley’s part in the case; he employs legal wrangling in a bid to ensnare the at-large hit man. That villain is an unmitigated menace who, following his failed assassination attempt, continues to target Riley more for “a score to settle” than financial compensation. The denouement, though not entirely surprising, entails a satisfying wrap-up. While readers will surely keep their eyes out for a Coine sequel (or another prequel), the return of other characters would be just as welcome.

A commendable procedural, with a superlative protagonist and supporting cast.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5432-4925-5

Page Count: 328

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

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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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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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