A gritty detective story as unflinching as its heroine, rich in well-researched period detail.

THE WAGES OF SIN

An intrepid female medical student stumbles on a conspiracy in Victorian-era Edinburgh.

Sarah Gilchrist is one of a dozen young women braving their first year of medical studies at an unnamed Edinburgh university which has grudgingly admitted them but treats them with contempt. Chaperoned in sequestered classrooms, the women are mocked by male students and professors alike, but Sarah has it worse than most. As a debutante in London’s smarter circles, Sarah was raped at a ball by the son of a lord, then blamed for the attack and banished to a sanatorium for treatment of her "promiscuity." Debut author Welsh lays it on thick in the opening chapters. Sarah’s fellow female students shun her while her repressive aunt and uncle, with whom she lives, preach at her. She rarely encounters a man who doesn't smirk at her. A defter hand would evoke the pathos of Sarah’s situation without lathering the reader in it. Eventually Sarah finds a friend, and the story finds its footing when Sarah recognizes a corpse in dissection class as a young prostitute she encountered in her work at a charitable clinic. Did the girl die by suicide, or was it murder? Sarah’s investigation takes her to the houses of ill repute and opium dens of the less savory side of Edinburgh. Now the game’s afoot! Welsh makes clever use of the conventions of the genre—Sarah has a dull, respectable suitor who the family hopes will lure her from her unsuitable pursuit of education and an irascible, brooding mentor who will reveal a secretly tender heart—while throwing in a twist informed by modern sensibilities. Damp, sooty, moralistic, and sinning Edinburgh is convincingly evoked. A coy reference at the story’s conclusion to another Scottish medical detective hints that this novel may be the first in a series.

A gritty detective story as unflinching as its heroine, rich in well-researched period detail.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-322-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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