JACKAL

From the Jessica James Mysteries series , Vol. 4

A fast-paced and engaging Jessica James outing.

Oliver’s (Coyote, 2017, etc.) “cowgirl philosopher” returns in this Las Vegas-set mystery-thriller.

Jessica James’ rough-hewn manner belies her training in philosophy, and her penchant for finding trouble has led her into three previous adventures. The latest book in the series finds her taking a bus from her home in Whitefish, Montana, to Las Vegas, where her ailing mother asks her to find a stage magician named Zane “the Mesmerizer” Powers, whom she says is Jessica’s biological father. Needing a place to stay, Jessica gets back in touch with dancer Cayenne Scarlett, who was born Mackenzie “Kennie” Czarnowski, “the only popular girl who’d been nice to Jessica in high school…probably because Kennie’s dyslexia had made it necessary for her to cheat off Jessica to pass English lit.” Kennie has since “made it big” dancing with Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, but it quickly becomes obvious to Jessica that there’s more to her old schoolmate than meets the eye. Just as in previous installments, Jessica soon finds herself embroiled in a dark plot—this time involving a black market organ-harvesting operation. She also uncovers darker personal revelations about Kennie, as well as her own mother. This series entry, like the others, crackles with energy throughout; Oliver has a good ear for dialogue and a keen instinct for pacing, and her scene-setting gets more evocative with every outing: “The sunlight set the rocks ablaze in orange light, and the otherworldly scenery transported her back to the age of the dinosaurs.” Jessica remains an instantly likable protagonist, but Oliver resists the temptation to pair her with a one-dimensional villain; indeed, her antagonist is, in some ways, the most intriguing character in the book. The well-orchestrated conclusion will leave fans of the series eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

A fast-paced and engaging Jessica James outing.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9975836-5-6

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Kaos Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Awards & Accolades

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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