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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


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

Did you like this book?