by Ernie Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 31, 2017
A promising thriller about a famous serial killer in which the suspense prematurely dissipates.
A novel offers a new perspective on one of history’s most notorious figures.
This 19th-century tale starts innocently enough with two Malay boys, lonely rich kid Maurice and Mawken, the poor local boy he befriends. At first, Maurice educates the illiterate Mawken, who in turn gives him advice. But as Maurice grows up, he yearns to strike out on his own and to leave Mawken behind. Before that can happen, the two end up on the run after the mysterious murders of their parents, supposedly by pirates and witnessed only by Mawken. The two find work on a cargo ship, with Maurice as a cook and Mawken as a crew member. Partway through the journey, Maurice witnesses Mawken kill the ship’s brutal captain, but he stupidly picks up the murder weapon and is blamed for the crime by his fellow crewmates. Luckily, a storm severely damages the ship and Maurice is briefly free of his past. Then Mawken shows up again, and death follows him, with the kindly but weak-willed Maurice unable to escape his dangerous friend: “There was no question or indication I had any recourse but to follow his plan. It was as if he made the decisions and I meekly followed.” Maurice is the unfortunate observer of a series of gruesome murders of women, first in Austin, Texas, and later in the slums of London, which leads to the Jack the Ripper mythos. The strength of Lee’s (Aquasaurus, 2016, etc.) intriguing second novel is the well-researched, vivid passages describing life aboard a cargo ship and in 19th-century Austin and London. The narrative moves along swimmingly in those parts. But the author tips his twist ending way too soon. In addition, anyone who gets close to Maurice tends to disappear quickly, sometimes permanently, while Mawken prefers to stay in the shadows (“I am not seen if I don’t want to be seen”). This means there isn’t much of a cast to experience other than the two polar-opposite main characters. The key question that remains is how long will it take Maurice to realize what readers already have.A promising thriller about a famous serial killer in which the suspense prematurely dissipates.
Pub Date: July 31, 2017
Page Count: 354
Publisher: Aim-Hi Publishing
Review Posted Online: March 14, 2019
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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