Enjoyable writing and effective detective work stand out in this series entry.

WHIZ TANNER AND THE OLYMPIC SNOW CAPER

A TANNER-DENT MYSTERY

From the Tanner-Dent Mystery series , Vol. 4

On a family ski trip, two middle school gumshoes try to solve the mystery of stolen Olympic medals in this fourth installment of a series.

For best friends Whiz Tanner and Joey Dent, both 12, visiting a ski lodge with their families is the first vacation they’ve had since starting their detective agency earlier in the school year. But as readers of this series might expect, detective work finds them. Former Olympic skiers Harrison Revel and his brother, Benjamin, helped build the Marsh River Mountain Ski Resort; on display in the lobby are their three medals of bronze, silver, and gold. A small crowd gathers as Harrison opens the case and shows the medals to the kids. That night, the lodge gets snowed in by a blizzard—and in the morning, the medals are missing. The case that held them is discovered in the garbage, but that’s the only clue, because the lobby’s security cameras are down. The Tanner-Dent Detective Agency swings into action with some help from Madilynn and her younger brother, Wyatt, other kids at the resort. They develop and whittle down a list of suspects, lift fingerprints, and set a trap for the most likely culprit. Can they prevent him from fleeing with the loot? Rexroad (Whiz Tanner and the Mysterious Countdown, 2019, etc.) varies his winning formula with a new setting outside the Jasper Springs Museum, a good way to keep things fresh, with the snowed-in lodge providing a reason that adult authorities can’t get involved. The briskly moving story shows solid sleuthing in the details of acquiring fingerprints, checking alibis, and eliminating suspects. It’s not groundbreaking—the super-glue method of raising prints has been around for decades, for example—but it’s realistic. These well-described scenes help make up for an absent feature of the adventure series, the fancy Tanner-Dent crime lab. The two friends make a good team; Joey’s regular-kid narrative voice contrasts well with Whiz’s precise diction and large vocabulary. Joey also brings courage and ability to action scenes.

Enjoyable writing and effective detective work stand out in this series entry.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946650-05-4

Page Count: 155

Publisher: Awesome Quest Mysteries

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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