An often diverting story of memorable characters hunting treasure.

CAYO COSTA CROSS

An estranged couple’s dispute over one member’s potentially valuable heirloom turns deadly in Mills’ (Pineland Gold, 2017, etc.) thriller.

In 1910, Jim McKenzie, needing funds for daughter Sarah’s tuberculosis treatment, steals a gold cross from a drunken Cuban captain. Unable to get back to his family in time to help his child, Jim buries the cross on Cayo Costa Island, specifying its location in a letter to his wife, Claire. More than a century later, Lynn Chapman owns that letter, which Jim’s ancestors have passed down. Evidently, a hurricane had covered the burial site for the cross, preventing Claire from retrieving it. That certainly didn’t stop Lynn’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Bobby, from looking. He now feels entitled to some of the cross’s estimated million-dollar value, as his search cost most of his inheritance money. When Bobby subsequently finds a way to clear the area where the cross is located, Lynn fears he’ll get his hands on the antique. So she seeks help from private investigator, former cop, and boat owner Doug Shearer. The two head to the island with hopes of reaching the cross first. Unluckily, Bobby is already there and, armed with a weaponized drone, isn’t willing to give up what he believes is rightfully his. Straightforward characters populate Mills’ tale, the latest in his Pine Island Sound Mystery series. Bobby, for example, is the unmitigated villain, his anger so sharp and frequent that he antagonizes his own divorce lawyer. But backstory for nearly every individual adds interest: Readers learn what Lynn originally saw in Bobby, while Bobby’s pitiful childhood may explain his unsavory present-day behavior. The narrative spotlights supporting characters as well, like Lynn’s genial attorney, Beth Mancini. Recurrent stories from Beth’s lawyer boyfriend, Frank Powers, about one of his cases, though curious (a judge is the defendant in a “sex trial”), generally come across as tangents. The book’s latter half, however, stays on track, as Bobby menaces Lynn and Doug, and Mills amply details their time on the breezy island.

An often diverting story of memorable characters hunting treasure.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-70210-485-2

Page Count: 217

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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