A roller-coaster ride to the finish, this book confirms Giordano as a writer to eagerly watch.

Appointment with ISIL

AN ANTHONY PROVATI THRILLER

Giordano (Birds of Passage, 2014) introduces Anthony Provati, a reckless Lothario who becomes a hunted man in a global showdown of vicious organized criminals and terrorists.

Anthony Provati, lounge pianist and gallery owner, has an ill-advised flirtation with the mistress of a dangerous Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov. Gorgon is a jealous, vengeful monster with a bloodthirsty bodyguard, and the woman, Sophia, is both terrified and conniving. Tensions escalate between Provati and Malakhov while Provati and Sophia relieve considerable tension together. Provati’s life is now in danger, and in one of a few plot contrivances, he seeks help from his NYPD friend who happens also to be on the mobster’s hit list. What follows is a parade of brutal deplorables—Italian, Colombian, and Jewish mobsters in New York, then corrupt Russian intelligence agents, Italian Mafiosi, fine-art thieves, and ex-Egyptian government spies when the action moves to Europe and the Middle East. At the end of the road is the Islamic State in the Levant, known as ISIL or ISIS, the most heinous of the nonstate terrorists. The threats feel very real. The plotting and writing throughout are taut and the stakes are very high. Not only are individual lives in peril, but plans are laid for massive attacks and enormous security breaches. Sales of submarines, Strontium-90 (a component of diabolical “dirty bombs”), and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles are all part of the high-level negotiations. Also mixed into the nefarious loot are massive amounts of heroin and three small, but priceless, Vermeer paintings. The book could benefit from moderating some of the villains for more impact; Malakhov’s gambit, for example, when approaching Provati is to threaten his close friend and employee: “Well, just so you know, if you cross me again I’ll rape her in front of you. I’ll parade in my men, and they’ll do her three at a time while you watch, then I’ll slit her throat. Your death will be neither slow nor easy.” Provati is an unlikely, intemperate hero but an enjoyable one.

A roller-coaster ride to the finish, this book confirms Giordano as a writer to eagerly watch.

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941861-34-9

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Harvard Square Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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