An above-par thriller hitting the sweet spot between sympathy and repulsion for a probable killer.

UNDETECTED

On the back nine of her 60s, a beautiful, canny woman remains a pro at snagging rich old duffers, then leaving them in the rough, and possibly in the ground.

In Marshall’s (Little Miss Sure Shot, 2014, etc.) first thriller, septuagenarian Dean and sexagenarian Suzy Perry married recently, shortly after the death of the bride’s previous spouse. On the surface, Suzy seems the ideal country club wife for moneyed Dean, whose house overlooks a golf course. But the slim, bridge-playing, Mercedes-driving blonde may have skeletons as well as Prada in her Westchester County closet. She talks little about her previous life in Atlanta with her former husband, who died of a heart attack that surprised everyone, including a cardiologist. Some sleuthing on the part of Dean’s son, Alex, reveals that Suzy may have had yet another husband who unexpectedly died decades earlier from heart failure in suburban St. Louis. If true, Suzy had a different name back then—Bettina—and a child who seems to have vanished. Or was it Bettina who vanished, morphing into a psychopath with no past and multiple murders on her score card? Her disturbing backstory includes abuse, betrayal, and an injury that resulted in a permanent limp “that sullied an image of otherwise near-perfection, like a blotch on the front of a snow-white dress.” Lively conversation and playful descriptions such as a dog’s “wagging his curved tail like a metronome” fill the pages. Points awarded for a thriller with a median character age that appears to be bumping 60. The book starts strongly, with Suzy on the run and the past events revealed at a good pace. Midbook the introduction of a blackmailer works well, but a disturbing medical issue has no follow-up. Ultimately, like Suzy herself, the story ends up limping a bit, though the final few pages may tempt a reader to a smile and wonder if a sequel could be crafted.

An above-par thriller hitting the sweet spot between sympathy and repulsion for a probable killer.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4575-7045-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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