A promising debut crime novel about a Renaissance man-turned-reluctant criminal.

Harry Hid It

BUT WHERE IS IT?

McKeever (Common Sense for Today’s America, 2014) offers a pleasantly ambling thriller about a talented mechanic and criminal.

Harry Strickland has a massive dog named Max, a small house, and a longtime girlfriend named Sophia, and he seemingly values them in that order. He also enjoys painting and extreme sports, and is a skillful, if occasional, car thief. After nearly getting nabbed on one such heist, the 30-something Harry decides to aim higher and “up his game. Not just a little, but in a way to make himself independently wealthy in five years.” Aided by a thoughtful biker named John and two-bit hood named Ozzie, his usual partners, he methodically executes a series of random crimes, squirreling away the bulk of the proceeds for future use. But the fact that he values friendship over competence comes back to haunt him, thanks largely to Ozzie’s screw-ups. Soon there’s a comely FBI agent, Karyn Dudek, on Harry’s tail, as well as a psychotic, small-time crime boss named Fat Tony, whose arrogant son was accidentally killed when Harry’s trio ripped off his drug deal. So Harry decides to pit the two sides against each other. In this first book of a planned series, McKeever has created a likable crook in Harry, a man who thinks, rather than shoots, his way out of difficult situations. Still, the author leaves few of the supporting cast members standing for future volumes, which is disappointing. However, he offers an added wrinkle, as the book’s subtitle suggests: an offer to readers to figure out the location of Harry’s treasure for a real-life cash prize, with the amount dependent on book sales and the number of correct solutions. Setting aside this gimmick, McKeever has still come through with a yarn that will keep readers engrossed.

A promising debut crime novel about a Renaissance man-turned-reluctant criminal.

Pub Date: May 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9966883-6-9

Page Count: 460

Publisher: Freeze Time Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2016

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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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