All the chops of an action-packed horror tale.

NIGHT CHILL

Gunhus delivers a taut supernatural thriller with his first novel.

After causing a car accident that killed a little girl, Jack Tremont abandoned his fast-paced career and relocated his family from Orange County, Calif., to Prescott City, Md. He planned to devote more time to parenting his own little girls, Becky and Sarah, while his wife, Lauren, works as a surgeon. When a psychopath named Nate Huckley tries to kidnap Sarah at a rest stop, the encounter ends in a frightening car chase that leaves Huckley in a coma. Jack is certain he saw a tied-up girl fall out of Huckley’s trunk during the crash, but the local police insist otherwise. Afterward, Sarah seems to hear Huckley speaking to her from his hospital room. Jack becomes convinced his daughter’s life is in danger, but no one believes him—not his best friend, Max; not Sherriff Janney; and not the hospital’s psychiatrist, Dr. Moran. Only Native American, ex–special forces operative Joseph Lonetree seems to share Jack’s “delusion.” Turns out several prominent citizens of Prescott City hide an ancient, evil secret, and when Nate Huckley wakes from his coma, there will be no stopping him from taking Sarah. Readers will sympathize with Jack and Lauren living through every parent’s worst nightmare: the inability to protect one’s child. Jack’s plight moves beyond desperation when the police won’t help, and almost everyone he knows and trusts is against him. Gunhus wisely lets readers in on certain secrets before Jack and Lauren are privy to them, while hiding others until the last moment. The novel further builds tension by following many characters via an omniscient point of view. After an especially exciting scene, the narrative will suddenly pivot to follow the action elsewhere, pursuing another crescendo. Though the ancient evil revealed at the end of the book is not particularly original, the powerful Nate Huckley terrifies, and the assorted cast of human antagonists adds to the white-knuckle tension.

All the chops of an action-packed horror tale.

Pub Date: May 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9884259-8-9

Page Count: 435

Publisher: Seven Guns Press

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2013

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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