Revenge and justice burn across Texas in this gripping, grisly shootout.


Escaped murderers, a Texas sheriff and an author who isn’t afraid to spill a lot of blood.

Crime novelist Grace (Daniel, 2010, etc.) sets up a classic police procedural, but whets the plot with cutthroat Texas politics told in the sharp perspective of a remorseless escaped con. Aging Sheriff Jubal Dark put murderer Carl Alvin Spence in prison four years ago—since then, Spence has thought only of freedom and revenge. After his escape from a Louisiana prison, Spence aims for Mexico with two co-conspirators along for the ride, but he can’t pass through Texas without trying for Dark’s life. Meanwhile, Dark, sheriff of Francine County for nearly 20 years, focuses on his upcoming, long-odds reelection bid. Two years before, a local girl was found raped and murdered in her home; despite Dark’s best efforts, the killer is still walking free. Spence rumbles through the county on a murderous romp two weeks before the election—although he fails to take out the sheriff, the trail of stolen cars and dead bodies does nothing to help Dark’s reelection bid. Relentless Dark vows to stop Spence before the election, so the chase is on. Initially, the bloody details of Spence’s violence—told from his brutal perspective—feel gratuitous, but as the novel progresses, his cunning and ruthlessness hit the right notes for guilty pleasure. One drawback: Grace has a tendency to overwork his similes and metaphors with impressive comparisons from unlikely sources, distracting the reader. Dimwitted escapee Bobby Joe Blaine poetically compares a dying man to “a puppet with a cut string.” Luckily, the touch of literary license doesn’t sever the tension.

Revenge and justice burn across Texas in this gripping, grisly shootout.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1434440365

Page Count: 354

Publisher: PointBlank/Wildside

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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 strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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