An unquestionably eerie baddie helps this uncomplicated but dark tale stand out.

A Stalker's Journey

A two-bit con artist focuses his aggression on a local paperboy and his friends in Lukegord’s (The Haunted Trail, 2014, etc.) thriller.

Curtis Ware, six years after serving time in juvie for a B&E in Iowa, now makes his home in Riverside, Maine. He runs a few scams, including cheating people in a carnival game and accepting donations for a disabled veterans’ taxi service that doesn’t actually do anything. But a small group of preteen hellions, including paperboy Ace Gordon, sends him in an entirely different direction. They pelt his car with snowballs and later sneak into his shack, unaware that he owns them both. Ace inadvertently leaves behind his newspaper bag, and he and his pals become Curtis’ mortal enemies in a series of increasingly dangerous encounters that span more than a decade. The author provides stellar coverage of both its villain and his young victims. The narrative, with its intermittent dialogue, often comes across as a chronicle relaying just the basic facts. However, Curtis’ actions are inherently creepy, and his behavior becomes more and more unsettling as the story progresses. For example, he shows up in costume at a Halloween party just to torment Ace, and he moves from chucking rocks at a football game and tapping on windows to chasing the kids with a buck knife. Lukegord provides readers with a modicum of sympathy for Curtis, who was raped and beaten back in juvenile detention. That said, it’s hard to side with a man who grows his fingernails long to use them as weapons, so readers are likely to root for Ace and company instead. The sparse dialogue exchanges can be stiff and sometimes recall Scooby-Doo: “I would’ve gotten away with everything had it not been for those nosy kids!” rants Curtis at one point. Some of the descriptions, too, are repetitive; the story repeatedly refers to Curtis as “disgruntled,” and his actions as “sketchy,” even in a newspaper article detailing one of his crimes. The ending, however, is fittingly disconcerting.

An unquestionably eerie baddie helps this uncomplicated but dark tale stand out.

Pub Date: June 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4909-3021-3

Page Count: 108

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 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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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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