A darkly satisfying novel by a writer with an eye for action and unnerving detail.

DEVIL'S GARDEN

BOOK ONE OF THE PALADIN SEQUENCE

In Tuck’s debut fantasy thriller, a spiritual crisis unfolds involving infernal antagonists.

Gerald Ironblood, whose history is as foreboding as his tall physique, is called by the pope to participate in a spiritual task force against demonic entities that may signal the end of days. Specifically, Ironblood and his friend, Thomas Burgess, receive a mission to interview the survivors of a shocking massacre of demon hunters. The pope fears that the killings indicate that the forces of hell, called the Infernals, are growing stronger. The inimitable, cigar-smoking Ironblood sets out to find his seminary classmate, Jacob Paladin, but finds that his old friend has become possessed. The narrative then steps back in time to when Ironblood was a soldier in Germany in 1945 and undertook the arduous, horrifying job of ridding a boy of a malignant spirit that went by the name of Lucifuge Rofocale—an entity who happens to know a great deal about Ironblood. Back in the present, Ironblood teams up with Matthew Paladin, the son of Jacob, in order to do the work assigned to him by the pope. They soon confront the case of a girl who began behaving strangely after a car accident in which her fellow passengers were violently killed. Before long, Ironblood and Matthew travel to Mexico to free another boy from demonic possession and become ensnared in the maniacal, grandiose machinations of a priest named Lammas. The novel features arresting, original details, such as the dialogue spoken by the demon in Matthew’s head, which is set inside angle brackets (“<You little shit eater, I should incinerate you for offering me up like this!>”) and is inventive and disturbing in all the right ways. The adventures of Ironblood and Matthew are never predictable, and the plot is cerebral, primal, and rich with pulse-racing moments, including an exorcism that opens the novel. As the story leaps back and forth in time, it moves just as fluidly between the natural and supernatural realms, providing a fantasy with a high degree of verisimilitude and grit.

A darkly satisfying novel by a writer with an eye for action and unnerving detail.

Pub Date: May 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1512045932

Page Count: 170

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2015

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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