A well-paced, attention-grabbing mystery that explores universal health care.

SET APART

A debut thriller shines a spotlight on the potential for abuse in a national health care system.

McCall’s book centers on two siblings. Gordon Sand is a missing-persons detective in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District. Ada Sand, his sister, is an information systems specialist at the Department of Health and Human Services, much like the author herself was. Ada’s star has been on the rise during the preparations for the national health system called Americare, a priority of the new U.S. president, Dale Durham. The siblings split their time between Washington and bucolic Dorsey, Pennsylvania, where their doctor brother, David, and his family settled, next door to the Benedicts, a German Baptist clan. But Gordon’s and Ada’s worlds are destined to collide. That’s because Americare favors the rich and powerful through its tier system. Even worse, Americare’s leaders contract with an ex-soldier to kidnap well-matched citizens for body parts in order to keep sick Tier 1 VIPs alive. Based on the techniques used by this “Taker,” Gordon sees connections among seemingly random abductions, although Ada and his partner, Scottie Davenport, are skeptical. Then the Taker targets a Sand family member. Will Gordon and company expose Americare’s secrets? Using the guise of a mystery, McCall asks hard questions about the specifics of a national health care plan. Will it be equally available to all citizens? Or will those who are considered to have contributed more to society gain priority access? The author examines the latter option by creating a nightmare scenario in which ordinary people are sacrificed to keep the mighty and their families alive. Those just plain folks also end up waiting long months for “elective” surgeries that could enhance their quality of life. McCall has created likable characters in the extended Sand family as well as a nasty group of conniving health care bureaucrats. Particularly intriguing are the Benedicts, who live a simple lifestyle much like the Amish. Ultimately, McCall’s novel is an enjoyable blend of thriller, character study, and think piece.

A well-paced, attention-grabbing mystery that explores universal health care.

Pub Date: March 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9845589-4-0

Page Count: 296

Publisher: JJ Publishers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2018

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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