As the heroine aptly says: “It’s a Hallmark movie except for all the dead people.”


Prospero "Whip" Stark, the ex–baseball pitcher who owns Arizona’s Double Wide trailer park, juggles three murder cases, two of them with uncomfortably personal connections.

Whip’s girlfriend, KPIN-TV reporter Roxanne Santa Cruz, calls him one morning to ask him to check up on Ash Sterling, the mortally ill Afghan war hero and admitted leader of the Champagne Cowboys, a highly successful gang of thieves, whom Roxy’s been interviewing in what looks like his final days. And so they are. Accompanied by his buddy Cashmere Miller, Double Wide tenant and convicted felon, Whip finds Sterling shot to death, presumably before he could spill the beans about the Foothills murders, whose victims, attorney Paul Morton and his wife, Donna, were good friends of Whip’s. Evidence placed the Cowboys at the murder scene, and although Sterling insists that he and his buddies would never kill anybody, he hinted the night before his death that he knew more about the case than he’d told anyone. Prompted by the discovery that the Cowboys included Sterling’s fellow vets Pvt. Titus Ortega and Lance Cpl. Vincent Strong, Whip (Double Wide, 2018) is eager to pursue Sterling’s killer and even more eager to discover who shot the Mortons. But there’s a third case that will always be first in his heart: the fatal stabbing of Cristy Carlyle, for which Whip’s father, Sam Houston Stark, a beloved professor at Arizona State before he got dragged down by heroin, was arrested, tried, and imprisoned. It’s bad enough that leads in this cold case are scant; what’s even worse is that Wanda Dietz, the Tempe Police Department detective who arrested Sam, shows absolutely no interest in following them up. Whip’s adventures bring him up against a broad spectrum of variously untrustworthy and clueless types, from a priest with an eye for the dollar to a “food court twerp” whose hilariously demented dialogue seems copied verbatim from a comic strip.

As the heroine aptly says: “It’s a Hallmark movie except for all the dead people.”

Pub Date: March 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73242-264-3

Page Count: 267

Publisher: Brash Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...


Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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