So many twists it’s practically gyrating, but an undeniably spry and rousing espionage tale.

The Good Spy Dies Twice

From the The Bullseye Series series , Vol. 1

A disgraced journalist tackles a story his newlywed wife had been covertly researching, involving Russians, spies, and murder at an Alaskan ski resort in this thriller.

It’s been three years since Jake Boxer’s career-ending rant on his news show, Bullseye, arguing that Russians killed soundman Brody White for his audio evidence of a secret intelligence project. Having moved on from the news world and planning to take the LSAT, Jake’s now on his honeymoon in Blind River, Alaska, with former producer and Brody’s fiancee, Claire O’Donnell. Claire, however, now a travel writer, may be working on a big story. Not that she’ll tell her husband anything—Jake’s left to wonder why she disappears for a few hours their first day and later doesn’t answer texts. The following day, Jake spots Claire boarding the ski lift with an unfamiliar snowboarder and grabs a ride a few seats behind them. Shockingly, the steel cable snaps, and skiers, including Jake and Claire, plummet to the ground below. An injured, temporarily wheelchair-bound Jake returns to the hotel alone, only to be surprised by Claire’s iPhone, which she’d used to monitor rooms she’d evidently bugged. Hoping to divine Claire’s subject matter, Jake sifts through theories, from a just-executed man claiming to be a CIA assassin to a Russian artist and her much-desired painting. The convoluted plot, a hotel filled with villains or possibly none at all, is surprisingly focused almost exclusively from Jake’s perspective. Jake, for starters, is definitely likable, earning Claire’s love and support by abandoning his “first wife,” Bullseye. But readers know only what Jake does, so even if he’s merely paranoid, his various conjectures on what’s happening epitomize a dedicated man piecing together a puzzle. The narrative, too, fittingly relays his emotional state: Jake’s hatred of the chairlift is ultimately well-founded, while repeated back spasms make simple tasks arduous experiences. The likelihood of being surrounded by spies and/or killers gives the tale an unnerving edge, but Hosack (Identity, 2012) injects some humor. For example, when concierge and (probable) ally Al asks about the targets of Claire’s extensive eavesdropping, Jake, perhaps prematurely, assures him, “Just the bad guys.”

So many twists it’s practically gyrating, but an undeniably spry and rousing espionage tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9978505-2-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wide Awake Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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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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