An admirable but too-squeaky-clean protagonist in a story that capably manages its contentious subject matter.

Betrayal by Blood and Demons


In first-time novelist McBride’s dramatic thriller, a successful businessman is shocked when his troubled teenage son accuses him of molestation.

Shane Connelly has made something of himself, a young hooligan–turned–college graduate now launching his own high-tech firm, Parallax Café Technology. His home life, however, is a different story. Both his wife, Tara, and teenage son, Nick, have mental problems, exacerbated by Tara’s heavy drinking and Nick’s frequent drug use. Shane, fed up with Nick’s late-night partying and family cars mysteriously vanishing only to turn up again, finally kicks him out of the house. That same day, Tara files a restraining order against Shane; Nick, it seems, has alleged that Shane’s been molesting him. Shane has believers in daughters Jaclyn and Caitlyn Joyce and his sister Katie, but he faces an uphill battle, struggling with the charges and confusion over why his son would accuse him of such things. The novel sometimes terrifies, showing how a simple allegation can make a person appear guilty. One of the cops who interrogates Shane, for instance, threatens him, while most people, even those supporting Shane, warn him that he’ll almost certainly be killed in prison. McBride ably develops sympathy for his protagonist, perhaps a little too well. Anticipation gradually diminishes as the case against Shane becomes increasingly rickety, especially with schizophrenic paranoid Tara as the only person who fully believes Nick’s claim. The story gives Shane a chance at romance with Lia, a woman he meets just before his troubles begin. He falls in love a little too fast—“Could she be the one?” he thinks, before Lia’s even talked about herself—but scenes with the two, as well as Jaclyn and CJ, are welcome reprieves from Shane’s tirelessly proclaiming his innocence. The story takes place in 2001, beginning months before 9/11, but McBride doesn’t allow the tragedy to be a mere backdrop. Shane and Lia’s helping others at ground zero, in fact, solidifies their relationship. The ending is predictable but absolutely satisfying, and Shane even earns a surprising, unlikely ally along the way.

An admirable but too-squeaky-clean protagonist in a story that capably manages its contentious subject matter.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1483421971

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2015

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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