Real-world characters should engage readers, though the R-rated scenes aren’t as muted as the author perhaps intended.

The Searchers

When terrorists kidnap and hold for ransom UNICEF workers in the Middle East, a man gathers his fellow Army Rangers to save the abductees, including his wife, in this debut thriller.

Having been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Department of Defense analyst Jim Warwick has seen his share of violence in the Middle East. So the Ranger’s understandably apprehensive about his wife, Julie, assessing children’s medical needs in Arabic countries for UNICEF. Julie promises to call Jim every night during her two weeks in Oman and Yemen. When she misses a call, Jim assumes the worst and, unfortunately, with good reason: Julie and three others from UNICEF have vanished. An organization called Liberté claims the abduction and demands a hefty ransom. Jim, however, thinking the United Nations is not doing enough, orchestrates a rescue mission with Ranger pals Scott Masters, Ed Hill, George McConnell, and Damon Harris. Leaving Damon in the United States to handle communications/logistics, and bringing Julie’s military-trained best friend, Rachael Fayyad, the group first travels to Yemen. The band follows the terrorists’ trail, getting intelligence however it can, be it bribery or torture. After the initial ransom deadline passes and results in one hostage dead, Jim is desperate to find Julie before Liberté, an al-Qaida offshoot, decides to get rid of the remaining trio. The story’s believable, grounded characters contrast with the oft-referenced, larger-than-life Hollywood heroes. The Rangers, for one, rely on reconnaissance and stealth, avoiding full-on assaults in enemy territory. And they’re not without flaws; Jim, recovering from injuries in Afghanistan that may necessitate an amputation, becomes addicted to painkillers. There’s little perspective from Julie as a captive, heightening suspense, as it’s not always clear whether she’s still alive. Similarly, what her captors may or may not do to her is predominantly left to readers’ imaginations, which is just as effective as witnessing potential horrors. Ollivier steers clear of foul language, opting for “holy smokes” or the occasional “gosh dammit.” But it’s an odd contradiction to the Rangers’ interrogative methods, like waterboarding or convincing someone he’s eating his own flesh— when what he’s actually consuming isn’t much better.

Real-world characters should engage readers, though the R-rated scenes aren’t as muted as the author perhaps intended.

Pub Date: May 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-30547-8

Page Count: 406

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2016

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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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