The author tests her sleuths in this grim and engrossing series entry.

FROZEN STATUES

PERDITION GAMES

In this fourth volume of a series, two private investigators tangle with their own tortured pasts while hunting a serial killer.

Toronto gumshoes Samantha McNamara and Reece Hash are engaged. Reece has decided to finish law school, which has left him feeling overextended and short-tempered. When they decide to hire help for their firm, only one candidate shows up, a young man named Elijah Watson. Sam immediately distrusts his stiff movements, stilted speech, and the odd cigarette burns on his wrist. Nevertheless, Eli fixes Reece’s malfunctioning computer on the spot, so they hire him. Though Sam and Reece continue to fall out of sync emotionally, she preoccupies herself with a new case of ritualistic murder in which a University of Toronto freshman’s corpse was posed naked like a statue and his eyes were replaced with black stones. This coincides with the disappearance of college student Bart Walsh, brother of Margaret, the firm’s intern. Margaret says that Bart’s new girlfriend, Angelina “Angel” Stuart, is a rude, manipulative wild child with a questionable past. Making matters worse is the serial killer Incubus, whom Sam helped catch and place in the Millhaven Institute. He’s been writing her flattering letters to get inside her head and bring friction to Sam and Reece’s already strained relationship. In her latest outing with the two private eyes, Fraser (Red Rover, 2016, etc.) pays homage to Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter by making Incubus learned, slimy, and dangerous even behind bars. She fuels the plot with increasingly sadistic secrets, one of which props up the tension between Sam and Reece (“ignoring her was his new modus operandi, along with his grumpy demeanor and argumentative attitude”). Careful details about the murders, like the staging of victims during foul weather to ruin forensic evidence, are impressively geeky. And Fraser doesn’t let fans down during grisly flashbacks, as a warehouse fire leaves Incubus with “strands of charred hair” drooping “across one wide blue eye that stares sightless from bubbling flesh.” Though this story can be enjoyed alone, readers may want to experience the series’ natural progression.

The author tests her sleuths in this grim and engrossing series entry.

Pub Date: June 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9947742-5-5

Page Count: 404

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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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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