Rogue bureaucrats, international terrorists, Cajun outlaws, and the odd carnivore gang up on a heavily outnumbered undercover team from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Only the fish are neutral in Goddard's (The Alchemist, Balefire) bloody, entertaining, eco-thriller. Well, why not? There probably are two-fisted Fish and Wildlife employees who don't talk in that ultrasoothing PBS drone. What is perhaps harder to swallow is Goddard's suggestion that there might be high-level Cabinet officials with the nerve and imagination to buy into Operation Counter Wrench—a vicious, well-funded, semiprivate effort to ruin the world green movement with a series of spectacular terrorist acts to be blamed on overzealous eco- weenies. Fortunately for the balance of nature, former San Diego cop Henry Lightstone has been recruited to the Department of the Interior's supersecret task force of undercover wildlife rangers. Disguised as a free-spending hunter with Teddy Rooseveltian appetites, Lightstone hires the vicious, criminal, forbidden-game- hunting Chareaux brothers of Louisiana to help him bag bears in Yellowstone National Park and then stumbles into Operation Wrench, where he finds himself battling grizzlies cheek by jowl with an undersecretary and a beautiful Brooklyn politician who's only truly satisfied when her life is threatened with immense natural danger. The creatures from inside the Beltway quickly show themselves to be ten times more dangerous than the wildlife. Goddard, director of The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, packs in enough authentic fin-and-critter detail to pull off his extraordinarily far-fetched and relentlessly violent plot. Not for the fainthearted.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-85112-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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