A promising but unevenly executed thriller.

Vette Head's Not Dead

In Sweetapple’s (Key West Revenge, 2012) thriller, a group of friends on a hunting trip discover that they’re the ones being targeted.

In 1985 Japan, U.S. Army Capt. Jim “Vette Head” Stillwater and his team are on an intelligence mission, pursuing members of a terrorist group in an effort to deter a possible attack on U.S. assets. Although they’re not fully convinced that there’s any real threat, they follow their orders to eliminate the terrorists. However, they learn later that their orders were based on a secret revenge plan and are told that if they ever set foot in Japan again, they’ll be arrested for murder. Disgusted, Jim resigns and joins the private sector. Fast-forward to 2005: Jim now works for a defense contractor and tries to convince his friend LP Thomas to join him on a New Hampshire hunting trip with some of his Army buddies. It turns out that LP, a fellow car fanatic, needs to pick up a transmission for his Corvette, and it happens to be on the way. However, the transmission is buried in the backyard of LP’s eccentric acquaintance. When the group instead unearths a cache of Nazi gold, all hell breaks loose. This thriller’s rambling and somewhat confusing storyline is full of action, but it’s a bit of a hodgepodge; halfway through the book, it’s still not clear whether the story is headed into spy-novel or military-thriller territory. Many of the characters are one-dimensional, and some verge on caricature, such as a cocaine-snorting biker and an overweight, lazy cop with a penchant for white supremacy. The overall premise has potential, and readers interested in the military will find that the author knows his stuff. However, some aspects of the novel are overexplained, such as the characters’ intricate knowledge of weapons and muscle cars, and these extraneous details detract from the novel’s action-packed climax.

A promising but unevenly executed thriller. 

Pub Date: June 23, 2005

ISBN: 978-0595672509

Page Count: 178

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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