A relatively restrained, old-style yarn of supernatural retribution and redemption that may leave gore-hounds feeling a bit...

Cajun Justice

A batch of shirts bearing deadly serpents, obtained unethically by a shady businessman, spawns terror at a retailer convention in New Orleans.

In his supernatural novel, Hadley (Origins, 2015) introduces Alex “Jensen” McIntyre, a Northern businessman headed for a retail trade show in New Orleans. By chance, he winds up using a filling station deep in the Louisiana swamps and encounters a Cajun crone named Mothe’ Moses. Despite her remoteness from civilization, she shows Jensen an inexplicable inventory hidden in her hovel—boxes of high-quality cotton shirts emblazoned with frightful, beyond-photorealistic imprints of venomous snakes. Although admonished by Mothe’ Moses not to cheat her with a bad check, Jensen is tempted to do exactly that, and he takes the shirts to his business convention, where they are, naturally, an attention-getter. But, as Mothe’ Moses warned, dire consequences soon ensue, with victims going “into some kind of catatonic state,” appearing dead but eventually showing some “muted signs of life.” The local medics start to suspect some kind of fearful epidemic. But Jensen’s friend and colleague Bob (also arriving in town on business and attempting to restore his cooling marriage) realizes that the cursed garments and Mothe’ Moses spill over from scientific reality into the realm of voodoo mysticism. Unfortunately, this book shares a title with a reality TV show and a handful of B-movies; it’s actually a tastefully wrought paranormal tale with some vivid passages of Louisiana bayou description. Depending on their thirst for mayhem, genre fans may be pleased (or annoyed) that the author refuses to slather the material in shocking bloodshed or Deep South drive-in, horror-flick culture along the lines of regional efforts from Joe R. Lansdale or even Stephen King. One might even characterize the story as a spiritual one (The Shack II: The Revenge, anybody?), except that evangelical intent is not obvious (although moral instruction is). The voodoo element gets handled respectfully rather than pulpishly, and a hint at Mothe’ Moses’ true identity remains a nice touch. But the author’s decision to tell the story using multiple first-person narrators (and all in fairly uniform voices) tends to telegraph the fates of a lot of characters in advance—defanging the suspense, one might say.

A relatively restrained, old-style yarn of supernatural retribution and redemption that may leave gore-hounds feeling a bit disappointed.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60645-160-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: BookWise Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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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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