A complex tale with an upbeat detective who valiantly confronts a bevy of villains.

Blue Fire

From the Misadventures of Max Bowman series , Vol. 2

Canfield’s (Dark Sky, 2015, etc.) latest thriller finds New York City private investigator Max Bowman searching for an elusive comic book artist, only to wind up entangled in a conspiracy.

When Max took down the secret military operation Dark Sky last year, it made him a media darling, and he now has a book about his experience in the works. He also has his next gig lined up: comic book publisher “Mighty Mel” Chesler wants him to track down writer/artist Ben Mikov, whose whereabouts have been unknown for decades. Mikov abandoned the industry just before his 12-issue Blue Fire series ended, and the fan-abhorred issue #12 was completed without him; despite this, the series eventually earned cult status. Mel needs Mikov to sign off on a Blue Fire film adaptation, but finding him isn’t easy. Even Max’s CIA frenemy, Howard Klein, turns up nothing. Before Max quits, though, he has drinks with Mel’s grandnieces, Candy and Janine, who plead with him to stay on the case. At the restaurant, the PI is suddenly woozy, apparently drugged, and his ensuing bad trip, recorded by witnesses, later goes viral. This, coupled with the unexplained disappearance of Sen. Abe Marks, Max’s ally during “the Dark Sky thing,” makes him surmise that he’s experiencing blowback from that operation. Someone’s trying to discredit him, he thinks, and this is seemingly verified when he’s dosed again, abducted, and tortured. In this second appearance, Canfield makes Max almost playfully buoyant, which contrasts nicely with the dense, though never confusing, plot. The cynical Max remains optimistic, even when his situation’s dire; despite the fact that numerous people are clearly against him, he still plans on keeping his “dental appointment next Tuesday.” Max’s volatile relationship with his estranged girlfriend, Jules, is efficacious when he has nowhere else to turn to for help. But the best interactions are between Max and Eydie, his new rescue dog, whom he reluctantly grows to love. Mikov’s location does play a part in the story, but the real mystery lies in who the baddies are and how deep their machinations run. Hefty twists abound, including a couple that Canfield saves for the final 10 pages.

A complex tale with an upbeat detective who valiantly confronts a bevy of villains.

Pub Date: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975707-0-0

Page Count: 398

Publisher: joined at the hip

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 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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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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