A formulaic but entertaining thriller.

Waking Up in Medellin

An auditor finds herself in over her head when she accepts a dangerous assignment in Colombia in Lane’s debut novel.

Nikki Garcia’s job involves investigating and outing large-scale corporate fraud. An assignment in faraway Colombia seems like the perfect way for her to throw herself into her work, as she’s still recovering from the death of her son and the end of her marriage. Once in Medellin, however, she realizes that misappropriation of funds at Amazonia Steel is just the tip of the iceberg. Its CEO, Manuel Del Campo, alternates between being dismissive of Nikki and threatening her if she doesn’t drop the case. The few employees who do speak to her and try to get her inside information start to meet mysterious, “accidental” deaths. At the center of it all is Del Campo’s dashing, handsome friend Eduardo Duarte, who sweeps Nikki off her feet even though she’s not entirely sure that he’s innocent of wrongdoing. She must keep her head clear and her heart strong as her investigation draws her closer to serious danger and more people around her wind up dead. Lane shows a vivid sense of place as she describes the “densely populated and disorganized” Medellin city streets and the “thick stone and brick walls” suffering from “more than three centuries of neglect” in a castle in the ancient city of Cartagena, as seen through the eyes of her heroine. A former certified public accountant herself, she also does well at conveying enough business jargon to move the story along without overloading readers. The plot is fairly predictable, although there are moments of genuine suspense and uncertainty. Nikki is a strong heroine but still thinly drawn; she’s capable, beautiful, and emotionally wounded but otherwise not a fully fleshed-out character. The romance with Eduardo also feels a bit thin, with a few too many hackneyed lines such as, “You must have known I was falling in love with you. I haven’t taken my eyes off you since I met you.” Yet, in the end, this is an enjoyable read even if there aren’t many surprises in store.

A formulaic but entertaining thriller.

Pub Date: March 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68313-014-7

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Pen-L Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 14, 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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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