Energetic crime fiction with sharp characters and a realistic menace.

INCEL

From the Walker & Arruda series , Vol. 1

An FBI agent and a homicide detective investigate murder and acid attacks in the Seattle area in Witt’s (The Tide of War, 2014) thriller.

Detective Damian Arruda is wracked with guilt after his partner, Allen Shephard, is killed. Allen had been convinced that his wife’s murder wasn’t just a random act, and Damian believed that his partner was chasing an imaginary conspiracy. As it turns out, Allen had been working with Special Agent Melissa Walker of the FBI’s cybercrimes unit. She’d also recently lost a partner, Shel Randall, and his murder, along with Allen’s, is likely related to an investigation into so-called “incel” forums. Incels are groups of people, predominantly men, who deem themselves “involuntarily celibate.” Melissa’s team has been monitoring their online communities, which generally consist of complaints; many forum-posters believe that they’re “entitled” to sex. The FBI believes that incels are behind some incidents of violence against women, and Melissa suspects them of attacking attractive men (whom incels call “Chads”) with sulfuric acid in and around Seattle. Working with Damian, Melissa and her six-agent team at the FBI’s Seattle field office keep a close eye on the members of one particular online forum, SaltyIncels. The acid attacks continue, however, and a new threat emerges when the team has reason to believe that recently discovered explosives are linked to an incel bombing plan. Witt’s dramatization of the real-life subculture of incels is riveting; periodic chapters of online discussions, for example, reveal how anonymous posters encourage others to engage in violent behavior. Her rich characterizations of the shrewd, headstrong protagonists augment the narrative, as does her use of short scenes and copious dialogue. There’s also plenty of tension throughout, as when Melissa’s boss wants her to drop the case and head back to Washington, D.C., or team members’ recurring clashes threaten to derail the investigation. Parts of the story, however, rely too heavily on coincidence, and one significant plot turn is easy to see coming. However, many readers will likely want to read more about Melissa and Damian in future planned installments.

Energetic crime fiction with sharp characters and a realistic menace.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-71992-852-6

Page Count: 486

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 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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Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice,...

LONG DIVISION

A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.

Citoyen “City” Coldson is a 14-year-old wunderkind when it comes to crafting sentences. In fact, his only rival is his classmate LaVander Peeler. Although the two don’t get along, they’ve qualified to appear on the national finals of the contest "Can You Use That Word in a Sentence," and each is determined to win. Unfortunately, on the nationally televised show, City is given the word “niggardly” and, to say the least, does not provide a “correct, appropriate or dynamic usage” of the word as the rules require. LaVander similarly blows his chance with the word “chitterlings,” so both are humiliated, City the more so since his appearance is available to all on YouTube. This leads to a confrontation with his grandmother, alas for City, “the greatest whupper in the history of Mississippi whuppings.” Meanwhile, the principal at City’s school has given him a book entitled Long Division. When City begins to read this, he discovers that the main character is named City Coldson, and he’s in love with a Shalaya Crump...but this is in 1985, and the contest finals occurred in 2013. (Laymon is nothing if not contemporary.) A girl named Baize Shephard also appears in the novel City is reading, though in 2013, she has mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before City’s humiliation. Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways.

Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Pub Date: June 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932841-72-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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