PREORDAINED

A gripping detective story with biblical undertones.

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In Wallace’s (Trojan, 2016) supernatural thriller, a South Carolina cop tracks a serial killer with ties to the occult and starts having visions of a demon.

The last few weeks in Georgetown County have been traumatic, as someone’s been abducting and killing 12-year-old boys there over the last few weeks, carving the Star of David into their bodies. Detective Art Somers worries about his son, Benjamin, who’s the same age as the victims, and his anxiety only increases when the murderer starts using Art’s town, Murrells Inlet, as a dumpsite for corpses. But right around the time that Art locks onto a viable suspect, the FBI takes over the case, so he and his fellow detective (and new fiancee) Angela Hunter move on to work a security detail for tech billionaire Cory D’Meadow. When they ensnare a would-be assassin targeting D’Meadow, however, Art finds evidence of cult activity in town, which may also be connected to the child murders. He also starts to experience intense visions involving a demonic creature; in one vision, it’s rising out of the earth and in another, it’s assaulting a woman. When Art sees a bright light and hears a voice telling him that he’s been “chosen for a special mission,” he’s certain that he’s either losing his mind or caught up in something truly otherworldly. Despite the supernatural touches at play here, Wallace’s novel is refreshingly subtle. The story aptly blends the horror and crime genres, as Art’s bizarre episodes are just as essential to the plot as the real-world evidence. Art’s personal dilemma is an engaging one: he’s been an atheist ever since the murder of his parents and sister long ago, and he struggles with believing that God has handpicked him. Nevertheless, Wallace handles it all with panache: his detective protagonist, determined to find a solution, compiles every clue, whether they’re from murder scenes, Bible passages, or his own visions. His investigation becomes even more personal when someone he loves is in peril.

A gripping detective story with biblical undertones.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9972257-2-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2017

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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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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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