A gripping and intelligently executed political drama.


In this debut thriller, a college professor stumbles on a plot to rig an American presidential election. 

The presidential contest in 2016 is vertiginously close, and Diane Redmond becomes the first female occupant of the Oval Office, narrowly winning by four electoral votes. Matthew Yamashita is a political science graduate student in Seattle conducting a national demographic survey of all the Electoral College voters, the subject of his dissertation under his adviser, professor Duncan Calder. Matthew begins to discover some statistical anomalies: there’s an unusually high number of electors turning up dead during the election, all of them Democrats, all of them in states dominated by Democratic voters and without laws constraining faithless electors. He decides to call an old classmate who became a journalist about his findings; the reporter suspiciously turns up dead immediately after. Matthew then sends his research to Calder, but the grad student also dies, in a hit-and-run incident while riding his bicycle. Calder, initially skeptical about Matthew’s conspiratorial conclusions, becomes frightened after someone vandalizes his office and attempts to break into his home. He calls a former graduate student, Imogen Trager, an FBI agent already investigating voting irregularities in Illinois. Trager arranges for Calder to meet James Novaczeck, Redmond’s campaign manager, but he’s assassinated before the meeting takes place, making the professor seem like a prime suspect. Unsure how far the conspiracy has spread, Trager and Calder find themselves on the run, trying to solve the case and save their lives. In his novel, the first installment of a series, McCrone renders the unlikely in tantalizingly plausible strokes. The plot pulses ahead rapidly, and its dramatic march finds a climactic conclusion in under 200 pages. In addition, the author affectingly depicts the blooming romance between Trager and Calder, both lonely, frustrated souls who have too often sought solace in their careers. (At one point, the professor recalls: “Imogen’s voice often drifted to him, like a half-remembered scent on the air. The coolness of that voice, its dusky lilt haunted him.”) The entire book hinges on an explanation of the byzantine Electoral College, something McCrone manages to supply in mercifully clear prose that never devolves into dry, textbook-style exposition. 

A gripping and intelligently executed political drama. 

Pub Date: March 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-79783-9

Page Count: 216

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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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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