A twisty, emotionally rich drama.


Four men find their identities, ethics, and friendships tested in this high-stakes thriller.  

George has finally stopped feeling like a nobody. When he’s accepted to the University of Kansas Law School Class of 1989, he jubilantly calls his parents—only to be reminded that they still see him as a shadow of his older brothers—athletic and academic superstars, twins who died tragically at the age of 22. Despondent, George heads to the local liquor store and runs into a sorority girl named Stacia, who flirtatiously cajoles him into giving her a ride and taking a shot of absinthe. The next thing George knows, he’s disoriented and covered in blood. His back seat is strewn with a gas can and a bloody knife, and the house Stacia entered has been blown up. His only coherent thought is to stash the incriminating car back in his hometown of Niobe, Kansas. But he didn’t plan on running into his three closest childhood friends: Curt, a sensitive artist who has broken his family’s tradition of farming; Bill, a physics professor dealing with major marriage and debt issues from his cocaine addiction; and Travis, a hardworking security guard who has always dreamed of becoming a cop. They’ve all felt abandoned by George, but the ensuing days of chaos and crisis will test their loyalty beyond what they could’ve imagined. Hawker (End of the Road, 2017, etc.) expertly balances external and internal drama, gradually fleshing out these men’s lives against the backdrop of an ever expanding criminal conspiracy. Upon first meeting Curt, Bill, and Travis, there’s very little to differentiate them, but as the story progresses, they each become memorable, with the portrayal of Bill’s addiction a particular standout. The plot trots along with plenty of satisfying revelations, and George’s character development remains intriguing right to the end. He claims that throughout his life, others’ “disappointment was like a physical presence,” following and “scowling” at him—but the thought of disappointing the friends who mean the most to him in these critical moments could finally spur the personal change he’s been seeking.

A twisty, emotionally rich drama.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-890391-09-6

Page Count: 382

Publisher: Vanishing Point Press Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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