An exhilarating, confident novel involving hardy heroes and nefarious bioscience.

VIRAL DREAMS

A father fights for his missing daughter in this debut biotech thriller.

Saenger parlays his expertise as a pharmaceutical immuno-oncologist in this novel about widowed single father and former SWAT team leader Max Tyler, who becomes embroiled in a nefarious biomedical scheme. While camping in California, his 9-year-old daughter, Megan, is nearly abducted by an unknown assailant; she’s shot with a tranquilizer dart and becomes gravely ill. Infectious disease specialist Beth Collins, at a nearby hospital, enters the picture to care for Megan. Another clumsy attempt to kidnap the girl occurs as Max struggles with Larry Drake, a disgruntled, drug-addled nurse who’s been committing murders at the hospital. Megan is abducted, along with Beth, who’d tried in vain to rescue her. Max holds the remaining kidnapper at gunpoint, and he confesses that Megan was taken to a secret lab. As Max and special ops expert Mark Hunter frantically plot a mission to save the day, Saenger expands his riveting narrative by offering further details about biotechnology company Viralvector and its diabolical “projects” involving Megan, whom they’d initially targeted long ago. Its chief scientist has collected several kids for viral experiments that allow the company to hijack certain youngsters’ brain cells, spur their intellectual advancement, and create prime candidates for stem cell harvesting. The author describes this process and many medical procedures with the ease of a seasoned clinical scientist. Some readers may find his expert explanations of genetic manipulation to be overly complicated, but they do add more intrigue and mystery to the story. Megan, who later teams up with another kidnapped girl, emerges as a tenacious character with plenty of youthful determination. In the end, Saenger’s villains aren’t nearly as wicked and calculating as readers may want them to be. However, the author’s gripping storytelling and characterization—and particularly his riveting conclusion—more than make up for this.

An exhilarating, confident novel involving hardy heroes and nefarious bioscience.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946920-82-9

Page Count: 306

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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