This tale offers a strong character study rather than a surprising murder mystery.

HOUSE OF EIRE

From the Hillary Broome Novels series , Vol. 3

“Ghostwriter” takes on a dangerous new meaning when a woman honeymoons in Ireland and uncovers family closets full of skeletons.

The third in Gillam’s (House of Dads, 2014, etc.) Hillary Broome series finds the disgraced journalist-turned-ghostwriter in Ireland with her husband on a belated honeymoon after 10 years of marriage. Accompanying the couple are her precocious preteen daughter, Claire, and her elderly friend Sarah (whose life Hillary saved in the first book). Hillary is haunted by her mother’s desertion of the family when she was a young girl. While Hillary’s husband attends a gang conference, she intends to bone up on her roots and fill in gaps in her family history. She is also invited to be matron of honor for her friend Bridget Murphy. Bridget is embroiled in a public campaign to stop Dermot Connolly, “a West Coast Donald Trump” who’s rumored to have “his own version of an Irish Mafia,” from building a Disneyland-type amusement park unless it includes a memorial to the millions who were victims of the Great Irish Famine. “Pot O’Gold’s not for history lessons,” the developer threatens (and to be fair, he has a point). But Bridget will not be deterred, even as she begins receiving cautionary ghost dolls as a warning. Her fiance, Seamus, isn’t sure “she understood the forces she was up against.” But he does, as Connolly charges him with stopping Bridget’s public campaign against the park. When Bridget is inevitably murdered, Hillary becomes torn between continuing the historical research that got her friend killed and protecting her daughter and Sarah. “I know you’re going to do what you want, no matter what I say,” her husband capitulates. This is one of the intriguing heroine’s most formidable features. The book takes a bit of time to get going (and it’s pretty clear who the culprit is) but the momentum and the suspense build steadily. And the author has created a striking protagonist. Hillary remains devastated by Bridget’s death (“Guilt weighed on Hillary’s shoulders like a lead cape. She should have gotten to Bridget sooner. While she had a chance to help”). Gillam does violate the rule of Chekhov’s gun: Hillary states that she knows karate and can take care of herself, but readers never get to see her in action. Maybe next time.

This tale offers a strong character study rather than a surprising murder mystery.

Pub Date: June 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9858838-6-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Gorilla Girl Ink

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

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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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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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