A novel with formidable villains and plentiful action and suspense.

Devil in False Colors

Two government operatives investigate a series of anti-Semitic murders that apparently involve Islamic State terrorists in Winnick’s (East Wind, 2015, etc.) latest series thriller.

A massacre of five children at a Los Angeles Jewish day school shocks police officers, and a discarded note in Arabic at the scene, allegedly signed “ISIS” (or “ISIL”), implies that more Jewish victims may die in the future. Authorities opt to bring in former FBI agent Lara Edmond, now with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Mossad agent Uri Levin, both of whom were pivotal years ago in thwarting a nuclear attack in America. At that time, Lara and Uri wound up in bed together—and even fell in love—but they haven’t seen each other in the last three years. A popular rabbi is soon the killers’ next target. In response, Lara responds to Muslim clerics’ online ads, offering herself up as an American bride; it’s a ploy to gain potential intel, as wives of jihadists have previously been actively involved in their husbands’ illicit deeds. Uri, meanwhile, plays the role of an escaped terrorist lying low in Los Angeles. It turns out, however, that they’re both already in danger, as the people behind the LA attacks know that the two are in the city—and the group has a larger, more destructive plan in the works. Winnick’s returning protagonists are as crafty and able-bodied as before; Lara, at one point, warns a man not to underestimate her physically—and breaks something to demonstrate why. But the villains, amply covered here, particularly stand out. Their murder scheme, for starters, is devious and effective; it’s clearly meant as a distraction, but the group’s ultimate goal isn’t so easy for agents (or readers) to decipher. When the bad guys adapt when something goes awry, it shows both their guile and determination. Lara and Uri rekindle their romance, but Winnick smartly keeps it on the back burner, focusing instead on the investigation. Interestingly, a few minor characters also take up a bit of the spotlight, including one introduced late in the story.

A novel with formidable villains and plentiful action and suspense.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5372-7459-1

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2016

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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