by Jen Sacks ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 1998
How does a nice girl find love in Manhattan? Grace tries by murdering all the undesirable men she comes across in this, Sacks’s first novel—an offbeat comedy on the complications of modern dating rites. Grace is a “nice” girl—and therein lies her problem. She just can’t bear to hurt men’s feelings (say, at that crucial moment when they reach for some sexual intimacy), so instead of letting them down gently she finds it far easier to smother them with a pillow or push them into the Hudson. Feeling justified and completely remorseless, Grace meanwhile continues her busy life as a journalist for a political magazine. But unbeknownst to her, Sam has been watching her all along (the story is told in alternating narratives, Grace’s and Sam’s). A Russian assassin now in private practice since the end of the Cold War, Sam first spots Grace while randomly testing some new eavesdropping equipment in a bar she frequents. Strangely intrigued, he follows her and her unlucky date home, witnessing her subsequent disposal of the body; and when he watches number two hit the river, he knows he has found his soulmate. Date number three exhibits a violent streak, leading Grace to another (though more justifiable) murder. Sam gallantly gets rid of the body for her, his way of introduction, and the two begin an edgy romance, despite Sam’s fear that Grace may be turning into a serial killer and her secret worry that she’ll have to him if he becomes too fond of her. Added to the complicated relationship is Sam’s new-found respect for life—paid hits lack the excitement they once aroused. Will this couple end up killing each other? Will they find consummate happiness? Sacks’s slim story offers few real surprises, though it manages to pull its own weight with droll humor and surprisingly sympathetic characters. An entertaining (if narrow-in-scope) take on women who just can’t say no.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998
Page Count: 208
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2006
Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.
Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.
Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.
Pub Date: March 1, 2006
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005
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