While the title seems pitched to Tom Jones fans, this mystery will appeal more to fans of lighthearted romantic cozies with...

Who Killed 'Tom Jones'?

The life of a mousy rest home receptionist is upended when she attends a Tom Jones tribute artist festival and murder intervenes.

Ellie Overton is 28 and single since the current crop of soul-patched hipsters can’t hold a candle to the flamboyant macho man of her dreams, singer Tom Jones. When a Tom Jones Festival, featuring dozens of wannabes with varying degrees of talent, swings through her home town of Pankey, Pa. (along with sister city Hankey), Ellie decides to fork over some of her hard-earned pay as general dogsbody at the Finger Rest Home for a weekly pass. To her surprise, her childhood frenemy Happy Carlisle is there—married to Flip Henderson, one of the top contenders. The first night’s entertainment is cut short when the other top contender, Stan McCann, crashes through the stage steps and breaks a leg in the latest of a series of “accidents” plaguing tribute artist contests. Ellie returns the next night with a carload of rest home residents; Happy sets her up with an eliminated contestant, Evan Salter, but the date goes quickly south when Evan is found standing over Flip’s dead body with the murder weapon in his hand. Ellie’s life becomes increasingly complicated when her boss, Mr. Finger, holds her responsible for bringing his clients into a dangerous situation. She feels compelled to help Evan, who claims to be innocent, flee the police, while Happy latches onto Ellie to cater to her not-particularly-devastated widowhood. Happy’s dweebish brother, Donny, turns out to have matured into an eligible attorney with an unfortunate drinking problem, and sexy police detective Marc Levy does his darnedest to sweep Ellie off her feet. The rest home residents, Mrs. Peachey, Mrs. Hand and Mr. Harvey, along with handyman/driver Jorge, supply insight, support, comic relief and wardrobe advice. Martin (Grace Unexpected, 2012, etc.) has written an amusing cozy/romance, though the title is somewhat misleading: The Tom Jones tribute artist theme isn’t especially vital to the story; it could have taken place at any kind of venue with an element of competition. Murder takes a decided back seat to Ellie’s romantic quandaries, dividing her interest and loyalties among Evan, Donny and Marc, though, in fact, Ellie’s relationships with her elderly charges are the real heart of the story.

While the title seems pitched to Tom Jones fans, this mystery will appeal more to fans of lighthearted romantic cozies with fairly conservative social views.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1620151976

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Booktrope Editions

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

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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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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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