A taut thriller with complex characters and an unforgettable villain.


From the Gabriel McRay series , Vol. 3

A serial killer’s misguided revenge endangers a Los Angeles homicide detective as well as his loved ones in this third installment of a series.

DS Gabriel McRay knows for certain he’s arrested the Malibu Canyon Murderer. The killer, Victor Archwood, confessed to Gabriel while trying to murder him after burying alive medical examiner Dr. Ming Li. Ming, Gabriel’s girlfriend, fortunately survived. But a lack of hard evidence against Victor and a surprise during his trial mar the chance for a guilty verdict. Gabriel fumes as Victor subsequently wins the public’s approval, seen as a man wrongfully accused. But Victor has his sights set on Gabriel. The two share a past: Gabriel had once been Victor’s babysitter. Young Victor confided in Gabriel that his grandfather was sexually abusing him. But Victor’s mother later convinced her son that Gabriel was the abuser. While Gabriel investigates another case, he periodically spots Victor, who’s clearly keeping an eye on him by following him around LA. It seems Victor has a plan involving Gabriel. While he’s an unmistakable menace to the detective, Victor also poses a threat to Ming and Gabriel’s estranged family, with whom he’s recently tried making amends. Stevens’ (Deep into Dusk, 2013, etc.) dense installment is a skillfully woven tapestry of subplots and character development. Gabriel’s backstory, for example, both gives the protagonist depth and links him to his serial-murderer nemesis. The detective also suffered abuse as a child, which he suppressed for years. Nevertheless, the story remains focused on Victor’s desire for vengeance, which leads to a lengthy, horrifying final act. Remarkable characters, in addition to Gabriel, enrich the narrative: Ming, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and Victor, whose diligence makes him a disturbing but memorable killer. Though the author eschews graphic descriptions of violent acts, her crisp prose leaves a lasting impression (“Her deputy coroner…used rib shears to snap the ribs so that Ming could easily lift away the breastplate”).

A taut thriller with complex characters and an unforgettable villain.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9970068-0-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: FYD Media, LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

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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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