While the bare bones of the plot and the characters are inherently interesting, much retooling and polishing of the basic...

DEAD BALLAST

Even hard-bitten security consultants can get in over their heads, as is made clear in Boyle’s novel introducing the team of Miles Warwick and Lucy Clewes.

London is gearing up for the 2012 Olympics as the narrative begins, and Warwick—a former soldier looking to make ends meet for himself and his employees—is trying to drum up business beyond the occasional bouncer gig. Enter Lucy Clewes, a beautiful private investigator with top-flight skills and academic credentials, a politically connected family and an unusual gift: a super-sharp sense of smell, thanks to brain damage suffered in a collision. Lucy is investigating the disappearance of an antiques dealer and suspects sinister happenings, so she hires Warwick to watch her back while she investigates. What starts off as a simple missing persons case soon blossoms into an international smuggling ring involving stolen Russian art and millions of dollars, and when all the players on the board become visible at the Olympic opening ceremonies—the CIA, MI6 and the Russian mafia, among them—Warwick and Clewes find that security is difficult to come by. Boyle’s novel starts strong, with a sure sense of the characters and their voices, but the plot is immensely complicated, and the efforts to make clear what’s happening and who’s pulling which strings at any given time makes the progression fitful, advancing in starts and stops rather than the well-machined flow demanded by thrillers. An excess of comma splices and run-on sentences further muddies the water, particularly in some of the longer dialogue stretches, making it difficult to parse the emotional content of certain scenes.

While the bare bones of the plot and the characters are inherently interesting, much retooling and polishing of the basic elements would be needed to make the story function as a workable thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466453999

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Fast Pace Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?

more