A well-crafted sci-fi thriller despite its unlikely hero and dangling conclusion.

DEATH's GRIP

A reporter’s obsession with the takedown of a corrupt billionaire pulls him into the secret, macabre biotech world of a mad scientist and his diabolical benefactor.

James Dysart is the improbable central protagonist of Gould’s debut sci-fi thriller. A gruff, middle-aged, twice-divorced alcoholic whose halcyon days at the Chicago Tribune are waning, James is still hunting for the investigative piece that will burnish his reputation and maybe bring down his nemesis, Richard Bassett. A corrupt Chicago real estate developer, Bassett has an assortment of politicians in his very deep pockets. Enter the beautiful, young, smart Sharon Hodges. She has been brought on as a summer intern at the Tribune, and James is ordered to mentor her. But Sharon has her own agenda. A decade earlier, her father, Stephan, was reported missing and declared dead after a boating accident on Lake Michigan. She is convinced the brilliant, cutting-edge stem-cell researcher faked his own death, and she wants James to help find him. The enticement of a potentially explosive story, plus an unexpected night of passion in Sharon’s apartment, ensnares James in a dangerous web of deception that puts his life at risk and plays havoc with his emotional defenses. The backbone of this complicated story is a sometimes too-technical scientific journey, beginning with Stephan’s early, unauthorized experiments to induce a state of hibernation in higher order mammals, potentially slowing the progression of disease—maybe even the aging process itself—and moving forward into a dark corner of present-day laboratory organ regeneration. The solid narrative is plot-driven. Although Gould fleshes out his main characters, he does this primarily by inserting long diversions detailing their back stories, sometimes breaking the high-octane pace of a gruesome page-turner loaded with twists. An underlying battle between good and evil is personified in Sharon, the second-generation genius plagued by internal demons that make her actions unpredictable, and Bassett, the behind-the-scenes puppet master. The flawed James is Sharon’s chance for love. Her instability provides the tension to keep readers hooked.

A well-crafted sci-fi thriller despite its unlikely hero and dangling conclusion.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9982758-2-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Grael Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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