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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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