A fast-paced DEA tale with a social conscience that should have many readers looking forward to more of Jason Kraft.

TobaccoNet

From the The Jason Kraft Series series , Vol. 1

In this debut thriller launching a new series, an undercover drug enforcement agent becomes embroiled in shady dealings in the tobacco industry.

Pot is the new tobacco. Hardly anybody knows this better than the greedy folks at Connecticut’s Treadwell Farms, where efforts are secretly underway to somehow cash in on the hot ticket that is marijuana. Marco Pinto, a scientist at the farm, busily spends his waking hours manipulating a new strain of tobacco with THC, the compound in marijuana that delivers the high. Since tobacco farms are already outfitted to work with what was once a booming cash crop, having a similar product become the new darling will work in their favor. There’s only one slight problem: marijuana is still illegal in most of the country, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, in the form of Jason Kraft, must make sure this genetic hybrid doesn’t surface on the streets. Complicating Kraft’s mission is the gorgeous Alondra Espinoza, a Puerto Rican native who packs a mean punch under that Miss Congeniality exterior. Espinoza is an FBI agent assigned to the case by bosses convinced that the DEA is not doing its job. What follows is a cat-and-mouse chase between different characters with conflicting interests in a plot that is tightly paced, if occasionally confusing. Bombard reveals the unfair labor practices in Connecticut’s tobacco industry—operations with no unions, no health benefits, deficient working conditions, and poor pay but which remain legal. It’s difficult to reconcile the land of hedge fund managers, one of the richest states in the U.S., with this kind of inequity. Unfortunately, Kraft’s romantic relationship with the beautiful Espinoza becomes a distraction at times, especially since it stalls the story frequently. And the many twists and turns may confound inattentive readers. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of action and fun to keep devoted fans of the thriller/spy genre satisfied.

A fast-paced DEA tale with a social conscience that should have many readers looking forward to more of Jason Kraft.

Pub Date: July 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5150-8064-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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