A densely packed story with plenty to savor for readers of any faith or none at all.

Seekers, Sinners & Simpletons


Lynch’s latest thriller (The 2020 Players, 2011, etc.) follows a series of people in the aftermath of two apparently isolated shootings.

In Tampa, Fla., a crazed man goes on a killing spree at a university campus. That same day, a doctor overseeing a new abortion clinic is murdered in a parking lot. As detectives and a reporter search for a connection between the two events, different people slowly come into the frame, including “Patch” Munson, an Alabama farmer who confesses to killing the doctor. Some of the story’s players even come together to find a missing woman during a hurricane. In this complex novel, religion is more than just a theme; it serves as a catalyst, connecting and repelling characters. For instance, Father Hanlon’s leaving the priesthood scares Patch into believing his confession will be revealed, which leads to Patch kidnapping Hanlon’s lover, Carol. It’s not just Christianity that seeps into the story: A blind scientist is an atheist, and Julianne, a computer saleswoman, considers herself to be a “seeker,” a spiritualist who follows no organized religion. Lynch doesn’t tip his hand by siding with any creed; instead, he criticizes and praises each one, frequently through debates between Julianne and “Hawk” Richter, the atheist. On the other hand, phonetic renderings of a Southern drawl from the likes of Patch and Rev. Billy Brand can be excessive and distracting, with cryptic words such as “decahded” (decided) and “reignahte” (reignite). The narrative also tends to be a bit wordy, typically in the form of superfluous adverbs—a professor can “visually see” the shooter, a touch is “paradoxically both soft and firm,” and a blind man “blindly” reaches. But Lynch also includes peculiar dualities for readers to ponder: a priest learns he has a son; a sermon inspires a shooting; and the death of the campus shooter isn’t considered murder, but killing a man who condones abortions is. Near the book’s end, as detectives, Hanlon and others desperately search for Carol, the hurricane casts a dark shadow that only intensifies the hunt.

A densely packed story with plenty to savor for readers of any faith or none at all.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615758220

Page Count: 424

Publisher: ERE Publications

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2013

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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