An amusing yarn about a student whose love of literature takes him on a dangerous journey.


A Don Quixote fan at Yale University discovers a letter that speaks of hidden treasure in Spain in this thriller.

Michael Porter, a senior literature student at Yale, has become somewhat obsessed with Don Quixote. Michael pores through Cervantes’ novel in both Spanish and English and mopes around campus, often making conversation with his imaginary friend, Boomie. Michael’s girlfriend, Liz Mansfield, a wealthy student interested in finance, is hoping that after graduation Michael will join her and work at Merrill Lynch. As those jobs will be arranged by Liz’s dad, Michael is not overly excited about the prospect; nor is he looking forward to the couple’s trip to St. Thomas. Michael thinks that there are clues in Don Quixote to hidden riches and pretends to be a graduate student to look through some Cervantes documents at the library. He confides in Liz, but she tells him, “The reality is that we’re graduating in two months, and fiction has to take a backseat to life.” She insists, along with professor Colin Edwards, that fiction isn’t real and that the Man of La Mancha has not provided a treasure map. But in the depths of the Beinecke Library, Michael finds an unknown letter, stuck to the back of another, that purports to give the booty’s location. Lost in a literary fantasy, Michael skips the trip to St. Thomas and heads for Spain. Hot on his trail are Liz, the professor, and even Liz’s parents, and Michael soon realizes that he is not the only party in a desperate search for the loot. Halaban’s (The Vermeer Conspiracy, 2015, etc.) novel is a fun and lighthearted adventure that is definitely smart but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nestled in the comfortable halls of the English Department, Michael’s literary knowledge and his fantasies have become one, and the real-life peril appears in Spain from such eclectic villains as an old forger, knife-wielding monks, and descendants of the Aztecs. The third act, however, goes on for far too long and becomes too crowded with characters. But overall, this is an enjoyable story that offers Gothic elements and archaic intrigue in a search for buried secrets that may or may not exist.

An amusing yarn about a student whose love of literature takes him on a dangerous journey.

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62901-487-6

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Inkwater Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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