This novel isn’t for the squeamish, prudish, or faint of heart.

A DECENT RIDE

When Ronald Checker hops into the back of Terry “Juice” Lawson’s taxi late one night in Edinburgh, on the eve of Hurricane Bawbag, Terry finds himself entangled in various webs of love, lust, money, and violence.

Checker is an American "punk businessman" complete with reality TV stardom, Southern pedigree, and fanatical, self-serving religious faith. When he hops into the back of Terry’s cab and hires him for the remainder of his stay in the city, Terry’s life begins to stockpile not only criminal plots, but also an onslaught of undesirables one might hope to avoid: his flighty half brother, Jonty MacKay, who works under-the-table painting gigs; his various bastard children; several prostitutes; “The Poof,” a local gang ringleader, and his posse; a Dane with a competing offer on a rare bottle of Scotch; and too many women to count or catalog. Terry manages to deal drugs, placate the man-child millionaire, and shag his way across the entire Midlothian; he attempts to locate a missing call girl, nearly reconnects with his children, and discovers that his heart is no longer healthy enough for sex. His relationships are plenty, complicated, and nuanced. As always, Welsh (The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, 2015, etc.) takes things from zero to 60 in his latest novel. Chapters alternate between the perspectives of various characters, and many are written entirely in broad Scots, one of Welsh’s trademark stylings. Also true to form are the characters, always gritty and with unrelenting personality. The baggage each character lugs around is heavy, often resulting in various shades of violence such as rape, murder, and arson. Masterfully, Terry develops and stays true to his almost fiendish appetites throughout the novel, all while exploring his complicated family history and romantic endeavors, and still manages to avoid incarceration.

This novel isn’t for the squeamish, prudish, or faint of heart.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-54089-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters...

TRUE COLORS

Female rivalry is again the main preoccupation of Hannah’s latest Pacific Northwest sob saga (Firefly Lane, 2008, etc.).

At Water’s Edge, the family seat overlooking Hood Canal, Vivi Ann, youngest and prettiest of the Grey sisters and a champion horsewoman, has persuaded embittered patriarch Henry to turn the tumbledown ranch into a Western-style equestrian arena. Eldest sister Winona, a respected lawyer in the nearby village of Oyster Shores, hires taciturn ranch hand Dallas Raintree, a half-Native American. Middle sister Aurora, stay-at-home mother of twins, languishes in a dull marriage. Winona, overweight since adolescence, envies Vivi, whose looks get her everything she wants, especially men. Indeed, Winona’s childhood crush Luke recently proposed to Vivi. Despite Aurora’s urging (her principal role is as sisterly referee), Winona won’t tell Vivi she loves Luke. Yearning for Dallas, Vivi stands up Luke to fall into bed with the enigmatic, tattooed cowboy. Winona snitches to Luke: engagement off. Vivi marries Dallas over Henry’s objections. The love-match triumphs, and Dallas, though scarred by child abuse, is an exemplary father to son Noah. One Christmas Eve, the town floozy is raped and murdered. An eyewitness and forensic evidence incriminate Dallas. Winona refuses to represent him, consigning him to the inept services of a public defender. After a guilty verdict, he’s sentenced to life without parole. A decade later, Winona has reached an uneasy truce with Vivi, who’s still pining for Dallas. Noah is a sullen teen, Aurora a brittle but resigned divorcée. Noah learns about the Seattle Innocence Project. Could modern DNA testing methods exonerate Dallas? Will Aunt Winona redeem herself by reopening the case? The outcome, while predictable, is achieved with more suspense and less sentimental histrionics than usual for Hannah.

Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters and understanding of family dynamics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36410-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more