A tense, well-realized police procedural starring a memorably resilient heroine.

Angel Hero

INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY

A psychological thriller with spiritual overtones, set in Hawaii.

Lizbeth Hartz, the levelheaded and high-spirited heroine of this fiction debut by an author of the same name (in an Author’s Note, she mentions that the stories in her fictionalized memoir are drawn from real life), thinks her humdrum life of shuttling between a boring job and her ongoing search for a shining prince to sweep her off her feet has finally turned around. She has been hired as a dispatcher for Whaler Air Force Base in central Oahu, and among the many memorable characters she meets there is Vic Lazzarini, tall, tanned, soft-spoken, and courteous. Vic is the first male co-worker Liz has ever encountered who treats her with good humor and respect, and she begins to become comfortable daydreaming about him and innocently flirting with him (at first, she takes it no further, because she has a boyfriend). She’s far less comfortable around short, disreputable, slightly creepy Jaku Cardoza, an islander with an angry edge, and she can’t understand the friendship the two men seem to have. The plot catapults into action early on when Vic is found murdered, shot to death by none other than Jaku, who’s out on bail alarmingly soon and free to pose a danger to Liz. The author displays a wide array of skills in this taut, fast-paced novel. She’s adept at evoking the atmosphere and day-to-day feel of both contemporary Hawaii and the sometimes high-pressure world of a dispatch operator (the workplace drama elements of the book are well-handled throughout). Her characters feel fleshed-out even when they’re unsavory (Jaku is every bit as compelling as any of the less predictable “good guys,” for instance), and her dramatic sense for slowly, expertly unfolding the police investigation into Vic’s death is surefire. Her cops sound and act like real cops (usually a notorious weakness of novels like this). Readers should find the well-orchestrated climax satisfyingly gripping.

A tense, well-realized police procedural starring a memorably resilient heroine.

Pub Date: April 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-615-98247-2

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Mighty Quill Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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