A welcome new approach to the small-town legal thriller.

Desperate Shop Girls

Gersh (Art Is Dead, 2006), a former attorney, charmingly lampoons his one-time profession in this lighthearted legal thriller.

A. James Emerson “Jimmy” Harris is an alcoholic, sketchy lawyer who gave up defending drug dealers in the city of San Buenasera, California, to go into practice in a small coastal California town. He’s no Perry Mason; his paralegal, Clyde, handles all legal matters for him, while his partner, Karen, does his analytical thinking. Instead, the wisecracking, self-deprecating Jimmy reacts impulsively when opportunity arises. So when Janet Mason, star of the recent television show Desperate Shop Girls, walks into his office wanting to divorce her developer husband and put a stop to his current project, Jimmy doesn’t think too deeply about it. But Karen does: “But why would she want to stop the development? It’s part of the community estate. She’ll lose half the money.” Mix in a vengeful mortician, a stern FBI agent, and a threatening, mob-connected union boss, and Gersh has all the makings for a wonderfully convoluted mystery. The author skillfully blends his narrator’s internal monologue and his sarcastic dialogue with others to propel the narrative along. Take, for example, this explanation of Jimmy’s ethics: “I’m an attorney. I’ve humbly bent the knee of fealty to my lord client. I’ve attorned. Get it? Attorney, attorned.” The author also sketches colorful characters, as seen by his snarky protagonist; here’s Jimmy’s take on the local police chief: “When he was a patrolman, the town had been beset by the scourge of jaywalking. He was assigned to a task force to stamp it out. It was that success that got him his job as our Chief of Police.” Confused Jimmy is so busy going down his own rabbit holes that readers will likely figure out whodunit and why long before he does. However, the way that Gersh guides Jimmy to the case’s conclusion is what makes this novel so enjoyable.

A welcome new approach to the small-town legal thriller.

Pub Date: March 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0692389218

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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