by Joseph A. McCaffrey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 4, 2008
An entertaining mystery, although not one for the gun-shy.
Classy ex-classics professor Bertrand McAbee and his multicultural mystery-solving posse go the distance with a former military sniper turned vigilante in the fourth book of McCaffrey’s (A Byzantine Case, 2010, etc.) reliable detective series.
After a failed black op in Kuwait circa 2006, the arrogant, unstable Marine Sergeant Alex Love finally snaps. The sharpshooter’s increasingly violent outbursts result in a full honorable discharge at 100-percent disability for psychiatric reasons. Love’s career and reputation are ruined, and the rest of his life is, too, since he knows far too much about American covert activities in the Middle East to ever be free of government surveillance. So he decides to “die”—if only statistically. The calm yet delusional veteran carefully crafts an array of false identities before faking his death and becoming an avenging angel on a mission to rid the world of lowlife scum—including assorted criminals and pretty much anyone else he dislikes. Unlike the real-life, random 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, which this story in some ways recalls, Love specifically (and literally) targets his kills. By the novel’s midpoint, Love has 99 notches in his rifle’s stock and the police haven’t a clue. Enter professor-turned-PI McAbee, at the behest of a staple of detective fiction: a grieving widow. With his diverse crew of allies backing him up, each with useful skills involving brains, brawn and/or technological savvy, McAbee is soon on the trail of the assassin. Aficionados of the genre will adore the author’s clever handling of familiar tropes (including, for example, his depiction of a nerdy genius character with limited social skills). One highlight is the sassy, steely Augusta Satin, the canny detective’s protégé and possible love interest; with her on the scene, it’s easy to miss the multimillion-dollar cache of blood diamonds that becomes the focus of the plot.An entertaining mystery, although not one for the gun-shy.
Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2008
Page Count: 328
Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2013
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
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
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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