Promise lurks inside this entertaining, wordy and densely populated mystery of unsettled spirits and family ancestry.

DELL ROAD

A mysterious death and ghostly sightings stir up a small Illinois town.

A muddied, dead body turns up at the intersection of Dell Road and the Jesse Kay Memorial Bridge in Billins, Ill., a sleepy hamlet renowned for its mysterious, unexplained occurrences. The corpse turns out to be that of Peter “Stinky Pete” Weldon, an aging, reformed town troublemaker. To most of the citizens, including the police, his death doesn’t come as a surprise since Weldon and his family had many run-ins with the law, as well as “connections to unusual and unexplained events.” The news startles local veteran police chief, William “Goots” Killen, who learns that the cause of Weldon’s demise is inconclusive except for a few defensive cuts and bruises. Word travels fast, and the death renews statewide interest in Billins, especially for Chicago-based, paranormal-obsessed, newspaper reporter (and possible mobster’s daughter) Connie Danci, who heads into town to uncover the truth. Eyewitness Janet Beverly reported seeing an apparition near the bridge where Weldon was found. Locals know this vision as the “ghost girl,” the spirit of Elizabeth Finney, a young child who had died 50 years ago on the Kay Bridge. Meanwhile, haunting dreams and strange happenings torture Weldon’s daughter, high school sophomore Jessica Lyons, who has her own personal demons to sort, thanks to a violent past and a shady family. Amid old secrets, haunted houses, unearthed bones and devil dogs, the story introduces a host of extraneous townsfolk (even in its final pages) and sheds light on Dell Road’s otherworldly hokum through chapters of lumpy prose. Though McNabb could have pruned his narrative down for clarity and character cohesiveness, the chugging plot keeps the reading lively.

Promise lurks inside this entertaining, wordy and densely populated mystery of unsettled spirits and family ancestry.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2007

ISBN: 978-0595702701

Page Count: 373

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2010

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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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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