A drawn-out but gripping thriller bolstered by a romantic triangle that defies expectations.

Blue Diamond

A woman agrees to take over her estranged, ailing father’s business and learns some deadly secrets in Wheeler’s debut novel.

South African Lin Fletcher lost her foster parents years ago. She also endured a loveless marriage to her hateful, adulterous husband, Geoff, who recently died. Now living in Cape Town, she’s surprised when her biological father, Paul Ansley, wants to see her. He has little time left on Earth, he says, whether or not he opts for heart surgery, and he wants Lin to be the major beneficiary of his vast business empire in Australia. He has stepchildren from his second marriage, but one of them, Felicity, has no interest in the business, and the other, Sean, could wreck the company (“I believe Sean is trying to ruin me financially,” Paul says). It turns out that Paul has been watching Lin for some time, enlisting ex–CIA agent Cameron Michaels, among others, to keep her under surveillance. Cameron becomes Paul’s head of security after someone accesses the company’s “vital documents.” Paul, at his Blue Diamond cattle station in Sydney, has a rather unconventional idea for securing both his company and Blue Diamond: if Lin marries Cole Stretton, an equal shareholder in the property, Paul can transfer his shares to her and keep Sean clear of his empire. Unfortunately, this ignites a fight between Cole and Cameron for Lin’s affections, and Lin’s unsure where her heart lies. Wheeler’s novel begins as a mystery: Geoff is clearly up to something sinister, and readers learn that his death is no accident. But even though it’s evident throughout that Cameron and Paul are hiding something from Lin, the bulk of the novel centers on potential romance. Wheeler depicts these relationships, however, as anything but typical: tenderness, for one, is all but nonexistent, and the men are often rough with Lin; Cole squeezes her wrist while pulling her close, and Cameron “crushed her mouth with a punishing kiss.” Lin isn’t helpless, though; indeed, she proves superior to the male recruits in the security training program. A major threat faces Lin in the more intense final act, and there are also a few surprises as the mystery unravels.

A drawn-out but gripping thriller bolstered by a romantic triangle that defies expectations.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4828-0311-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: PartridgeAfrica

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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