A sufficient mystery elevated by a pragmatic and able heroine.


From the Alice MacDonald Greer Mystery Series series , Vol. 5

A Texas lawyer becomes embroiled in a case of murder, arson, and deceit in this fifth installment of a thriller series.

Attorney Alice MacDonald Greer is chairing the Rules Committee at the First Annual Coffee Creek Barbecue Competition. She’s anticipating the occasional complaint but certainly not the body she stumbles on. The murder victim is John Pine, a food writer who had made a few enemies, including two renowned chefs acting as guest judges for the competition. Unfortunately, locals suspect Alice’s friend M.A. Ellison of the homicide, as she has an unmistakable link to the murder weapon. This gives Alice incentive to identify the real killer, but she already has her hands full. She has lost at least some business, likely due to the influence of Coffee Creek banker Clay Black. He thinks Alice is supporting her pal Red Griffin, a CPA who’s running against Clay in the election for the electric co-op board. Alice is also representing Clay’s estranged nephew, Caswell Bond, who just closed on a ranch that the banker had been interested in purchasing. This is the same property with a house that someone later decides to torch, and soon Alice is looking for a murderer and an arsonist—quite possibly the same person. Foster’s (Ghost Dagger, 2017, etc.) recurring protagonist deftly handles multiple tasks and hurdles. Not only is she running her law practice and tracking down criminals, she also finds herself in peril, as when someone shoots at her. The progressively complicated—though never convoluted—story ultimately includes drones and espionage. While who’s behind most or all of these activities isn’t particularly surprising, watching Alice piece together the puzzle is riveting, as the tale showcases her sharp reasoning. Alice and her friends are often refreshingly blunt, prompting the book’s crisp dialogue. For example, Red, who may be regretting her bid for the co-op board, informs Alice: “If ever again I tell you I want to run for anything, dogcatcher, whatever, just shoot me.”

A sufficient mystery elevated by a pragmatic and able heroine.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-16827-1

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Stuart's Creek Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2018

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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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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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