A fast-paced mystery featuring plenty of excitement.

Skully, Perdition Games

Kidnapping, murder, and mind games are afoot in Fraser’s (Simon Says, 2014) latest thriller, which revisits PI Sam McNamara as she tackles a new case.

It’s July 1980, and pregnant Nina LeBlanc has been having a strange nightmare: she repeatedly dreams of abandoning her 5-year-old daughter, Gabriella, in the forest. Her husband, Quentin, says it’s nothing, but Nina is convinced she’s inherited her Scottish grandmother’s prophetic vision and that something terrible is going to happen to Gabriella. Her premonitions turn out to be all too true: Gabriella goes missing during the family’s vacation to a remote cabin and isn’t found until later, having killed the man who was physically and sexually abusing her. Ten years later, Quentin can tell there’s something wrong with Gabriella; his worst fears are confirmed when Isabella, her younger sister, is pushed from a treehouse. The story then flashes forward to the present day, when private detective Sam McNamara meets the adult Gabriella, not realizing they used to live next door to each other as children. Sam and her boyfriend, Reece, are reluctantly drawn into Gabriella’s life after she disappears, leaving nothing but a trail of blood and a 911 call saying her husband tried to kill her. Now, Sam and Reece must discover whether Gabriella is alive or dead—and who might have tried to murder her. Fraser’s second entry in the Perdition Games series is much stronger than the first. The writing throughout is taut and focused, capturing the reader’s attention and constantly upping the stakes as Sam tries to untangle the mystery that is Gabriella. Sam is a more compelling character this time around, too; as she wades through Gabriella’s past, she discovers things about her own that drive a wedge between her and Reece, allowing her to explore her own shortcomings and grow as a person. Although the novel gives away the answer to the mystery too soon, it still delivers a good dose of entertainment and moral ambiguity along the way.

A fast-paced mystery featuring plenty of excitement.

Pub Date: June 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9947742-0-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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