A taut tale of a global attack that’s both gripping and frighteningly plausible.

DARK DATA

CONTROL, ALT, DELETE

In this techno-thriller, a Russian oligarch’s elaborate cyberplan threatens to generate chaos on a worldwide scale.

When Washington, D.C., reporter Rebecca Taft covertly meets with a hacker, all she has to show for it is a cryptic list of dates. But she quickly realizes the dates correspond with terrorist strikes, and the latest two imply future attacks. She gives the information to U.S. government agencies, which already have some intel. Agents, for one, have their eyes on shady American attorney Frank Cooper, who recently met with arms dealer Philippe Lamont. But the U.S. wants Cooper’s boss, a Russian whom the agencies have yet to identify. Readers know he’s Constantine Petrenko, who’s spearheading the planned assaults. The Russian has numerous people in his employ, though the most alarming may be Paula Janković. The hacker is in the process of perfecting The Selfish Ledger, which amasses individuals’ data in order to predict and even control behavior. Despite the fact that Taft and the U.S. agencies know the specific date of the first strike, they’re oblivious as to where or what it will be. And no one in any country is prepared for the full extent of the attack. Though character discourse constitutes the bulk of Wood’s (Asshole Attorney, 2018, etc.) novel, the story moves at a frantic pace. This is primarily due to perpetually shifting perspectives, as Petrenko’s scheme involves a multitude of players. Regardless, some characters stand out, particularly sleazy Cooper, who drinks martinis at any time of the day, and Janković, whose skills at digital manipulation make her more menacing than Petrenko. Exhilarating action finally emerges once the tale reaches the anticipated date, which entails surprising deaths among established characters. But the most unsettling aspect of Wood’s story is its believability; not only is The Selfish Ledger a real-life concept, but the villains’ easy manipulation of people via social media is a convincing turn. The ending, though definitive, leaves room for a sequel.

A taut tale of a global attack that’s both gripping and frighteningly plausible.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73352-531-2

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Plum Bay Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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