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Devil in False Colors

A novel with formidable villains and plentiful action and suspense.

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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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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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FIREFLY LANE

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

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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