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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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...


Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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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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