An enjoyable, action-packed crime tale with strong language.

MIAMI MOON

A JOSE CASTILLO MYSTERY

A wisecracking sleuth explores dangerous happenings in Miami in this second installment of a mystery series.

Jose Castillo, a luxury car repairman, moonlights as a private investigator. Usually, his cases involve minor infractions such as personal injury incidents or infidelity. He goes on stakeouts in his van equipped with the latest spy technology courtesy of his computer wiz pal, Jim Gafford. Jose is hired by Lesson, a strip club security guard who fears for his safety. After Lesson overhears strange rumblings from his Russian boss, Volkov, his house is mysteriously firebombed. Turns out, Volkov has been on the police radar for years and Jose steps in to uncover what is going on. When Jose learns that Volkov is part of the Russian mafia, he enlists the help of old military friends Chris and Chini. Jose uses out-of-the-box, risky measures in his work (for example, kidnapping and drugging a potential informant). Soon, Jose is targeted by Volkov’s gang and must wrangle himself—and his loved ones, including his fiancee, Kat—out of trouble. Meanwhile, Miami police are on the hunt for a killer targeting sex workers. After investigative reporter Lola Sanchez is murdered by the culprit while working undercover, Jose joins his best friend, Homicide Detective Nate Devine, in the search for the serial killer. Goyanes (Miami Beat, 2012) often includes captivating descriptions, many focusing on Jose’s car restorations, local Cuban food and eateries, and factoids about the city. A scene in the Miami Tunnel prompts: “The Miami Tunnel was first proposed in 1983 to alleviate the traffic....Between the burgeoning cruise ship traffic and the steady flow of the cargo container industry, it became evident that something had to be done.” But the dialogue can be explicit, which may disturb some readers. For example, characters toss out slurs (one scene features homophobic language in an interaction with a cross-dressing sex worker). Although Jose and friends’ sarcastic banter often pokes fun at different cultures and ethnicities, the private eye explains: “All of us come from different descendants...we rag on each other like brothers because circumstances have put us together...we have had each other’s back at some point.” While the murders are detailed and graphic, the plot is engaging and Jose is a stand-up, strong protagonist. His intriguing back story contributes to his detective skills quite well.

An enjoyable, action-packed crime tale with strong language.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63338-340-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Fulton Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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