A well-plotted thriller with a likable, female protagonist strong enough to be featured in her own series.

TERMINATION OF BENEFITS

In Sloven’s impressive first installment of a planned series, someone is killing psychotherapists in Portland, Maine, and the primary suspect is another psychotherapist.

Sarah Green was a Boston lawyer with the public defender’s office until her best friend from college, Miriam Moss, was murdered by a criminal defense client. She moved to Portland, got a degree in clinical social work, and went into private practice as a trauma therapist. She also has some psychic skills. She experiences premonitions and can speak with dead people. It runs in the family. Sarah is preparing to accompany Louise Gold, another close friend and fellow therapist, to a court proceeding. Louise is testifying on behalf of Brooke Hart Tate, one of her patients, in a custody dispute. Brooke’s estranged husband, George Tate, happens to be the CEO of Constant Caring Managed Care Company, a health insurance corporation that pays (or, more often, denies payment to) most of the therapists we meet in this narrative. Testifying for George is Dr. Harold Henderson, an arrogant misogynist who treated Brooke and George in couple’s therapy. When Henderson turns up dead in his office, suspicion falls on Louise, who was overheard bad-mouthing him in the court’s restroom. Unfortunately, Louise is involved in a personal crisis (her husband, Mark, may or may not have fallen off the AA wagon) that is causing her to be more secretive and appear guilty. Sloven (co-author: Compassionate Journey, 2018) makes fine use of her own experience as lawyer-turned-psychotherapist to lay out an intricate, twisty plot that maintains a steady pace. Sarah is a complex character, still working her way through PTSD from Miriam’s death, conflicted about her paranormal visitations from Miriam, and simultaneously navigating two romantic relationships, one of which is with her wealthy former husband. There is a satisfying skewering of managed care health insurance, enough bad guys to provide tension and keep readers guessing, a few psychopathic patients to add to the danger, and a group of analysts still working out their own issues.

A well-plotted thriller with a likable, female protagonist strong enough to be featured in her own series.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-63381-130-0

Page Count: 265

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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