A smart, entertaining take on eternal conundrums.

BREAKING THE DEVIL'S HEART

A LOGIC OF DEMONS NOVEL

Celestial gumshoes search for the source of evil in this knotty supernatural allegory.

Recently deceased ex–CIA agent Stewart Willoughby is an Observer, an almost-angel who uses rough tactics in the fight against demonic adversaries. He gets a break when he recruits a new informant, a senior executive at the Company—aka hell—who’s willing to give him information on “The Formula” that demons use to goad humans into sin. (The impish fiends are forever whispering malevolent hints into people’s ears, sometimes in person and sometimes over the phone from infernal call centers.) With his fetching partner and former fiancée, Layla, Stewart embarks on an extended investigation into the nature and causes of evil, from garden-variety manslaughters to horrific genocides. Their sleuthing takes them to some of history’s grisliest crime scenes—and eventually starts to eat away at their souls, as they resort to methods that are uncomfortably similar to the brutalities they want to eradicate. In this installment of his Logic of Demons series, Goodman continues fleshing out his inventive vision of the afterlife as an edgy, inglorious, down-to-earth place, where heaven itself is divided between hostile liberal and fundamentalist factions, and no one is sure that an always-absent God even exists. The devils, as usual, get the best lines; Goodman’s portrait of hell as a dreary corporate bureaucracy is a satiric gem—the chief torments are pointless routine, office gossip and nasty performance evaluations. The novel drags, though, when it focuses on Stewart and Layla’s relationship, which stays blissfully bland even after it takes a satanic turn. But Goodman also probes meaty philosophical themes with sophistication, as his characters wrestle with the problem of evil and the blurry line separating right from wrong. Subversively, he suggests that evil may not be a demonic plot but just another name for human nature. Goodman’s allegorical symbology isn’t too intricate—a farm boy Stewart encounters turns out to be the quite literal embodiment of Time and Chance—and at times the novel’s intellectual debates feel like an undergraduate seminar. Still, Goodman’s cross between a detective novel and The Screwtape Letters makes for a stimulating read.

A smart, entertaining take on eternal conundrums.

Pub Date: May 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1432790790

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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