While Alex Delaware, his psychologist-sleuth (The Clinic, 1997, etc.), is out on a one-book hiatus, Kellerman produces his best work yet. Young Billy Straight, fleeing domestic non-tranquility—his mom's a drunk, her boyfriend's a sadist—happens on a woman being stabbed to death. It traumatizes him, of course—not only the brutality of it, but its way of placing on his thin shoulders one more impossible burden. What should he do? Should he tell the police he's seen a license plate number? He's only 12, but Bill is named "Straight" for a reason: he's a boy who takes moral dilemmas seriously. But this time, nevertheless, he runs. Facing the police, risking a return to the misery of his home as well as possible exposure to a killer, is more good behavior than he can force on himself. The murder victim turns out to be the divorced wife of a well-known television star—and a case for the LAPD's Detective Petra Connor, who is less than overjoyed at it, knowing it will be high profile and a media magnet. Launching the kind of professional investigation she prides herself on is tricky business in a fish bowl. Brass will get nervous. In addition, her usually rock-solid partner is already distracted in a way that mystifies her, and he won't explain himself, making Petra feel put upon and deserted. But there's plenty of bulldog in this pretty Detective, belying her laid-back and understated look. Relentlessly, she tracks down the leads that at first point unerringly to the disgruntled and jealous former husband. Soon, however, other possibilities occur, until at last Petra connects with Billy during a climactic, blood-drenched shoot-out that resolves all. An engrossing tale in lean, straightforward prose. Readers leery of Kellerman's style will be hard put to find the purple patches usually associated with it.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-45959-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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.


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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