Solid characters steer a tantalizing mystery that’s unhurried but more than worth its while.

THE MOSQUITO BITES

A MYSTERY NOVEL

In this debut thriller, recent hires at a chemical company learn there may be a coverup regarding a new product’s nasty side effects.

Alex Gregory’s doctorate in statistics and minor in chemistry earn him his first “ ‘real’ job” at Sterling Chemicals, overseeing pesticide field testing and data analysis. Small-town Alex has barely settled into his New York City high-rise office when he gets a strange call from Cindy, the widow of Dr. Peter Hudson, whose fatal heart attack vacated the position Alex now holds. Cindy, trying to reach HR, inadvertently dials Peter’s number and reaches Alex, a complete stranger with whom she’d like to talk about her deceased husband. At a coffee shop, she claims Peter was too close to something at Sterling, and his death was actually murder. The new administrative assistant (and Alex’s potential romantic interest), Leslie Sherwood, hears of another former employee’s unusual exit—Dawn Manning simply stopped showing up at work. Meanwhile, Alex and Leslie are unnerved by a blue-shirted man who they’re fairly certain is following them. All of this likely stems from a pesticide in development, with a high kill rate for bugs but whose potential lethalness for humans Sterling may have intentionally buried. The tale’s measured pace deftly establishes characters (Alex and Leslie bond during the company’s dreary orientation) and plot (employees suspiciously avoid any discussion about Peter). Frazee’s details are sometimes excessive, like specifics on how to run an espresso machine. But the introduction of a slowly approaching menace is effective, namely the recurring man in the discernible blue shirt, who’s innocuous at first but decidedly more frightening once Sterling workers link him to probable murder. The mystery, too, is both alluring and appropriate in its white-collar relevance: a document inexplicably missing from a file signifies something sinister, while another one hidden in Alex’s office is pure intrigue. The ending, though a bit rushed, is realistic and left predominantly open.

Solid characters steer a tantalizing mystery that’s unhurried but more than worth its while.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63524-636-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

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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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