An excellent police thriller from a new talent.

THE TESTING POINT

This boisterous cop drama set in Boston’s troubled Tremont neighborhood offers more than the usual mix of corruption, organized crime and paranoiac plot twists.

A prostitute lies dead in a cheap motel in a bad part of town. Her suspected killer—a city policeman—is hauled away amid the glare of the local press. It all looks clear enough for everyone except young, streetwise Officer Ben Grasso (and perhaps Dennis Lehane fans), who begins his own covert investigation into the increasingly convoluted situation. He knows his childhood buddy Andy McGill is being framed for the shooting, but by whom? And why? Grasso’s knockout new partner—nightstick-wielding ex-Israeli intelligence agent Dina Greenbaum—joins in the search for the real story behind the young working girl’s murder, which leads them deep into a fairly predictable but entertaining tangle of organized crime and police corruption. Secret alliances, rogue bikers and a shadowy figure named Frank Ferrante complicate the pursuit of truth, as does a problematic romance that threatens to bubble up between Officers Grasso and Greenbaum. Hidden agendas are the order of the day, along with baseball, shootouts, familial responsibility and explosions. With these elements firmly in hand, the author turns out a more-than-competent thriller sure to please genre aficionados who like their crime fiction fast-paced, but not too broody or cerebral. Collins’ heroes and villains are comfortably life-sized, and his flair for interesting details of time and place keep the prose realistic but not dull. What helps elevate Collins’ debut from similar fare are his intriguing (but not belabored) digressions into his protagonists’ compelling back stories: Grasso’s ongoing balancing act between idealism and pragmatism rings true, without veering needlessly into chest-thumping machismo or blue-collar bathos, while Greenbaum’s mysterious doings with the Mossad are taut enough to be a self-contained tale. Readers rooting for further adventures from the duo will welcome the novel’s tidy, open-ended finale, which suggests the beginning of a potentially popular series.

An excellent police thriller from a new talent.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475146882

Page Count: 256

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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