A lively but campy murder mystery.

SPENT IDENTITY

From the Annalisse series , Vol. 2

In this sequel, a woman’s beloved aunt disappears and clues surface that suggest foul play.

Annalisse Drury is tormented by the uncertainty of her relationship with Alec Zavos, a fabulously wealthy heir to his family’s business empire, and discontented with life in Manhattan and its “cold streets crowded with absentminded New Yorkers fascinated by their phones.” She escapes “Zombieland” for the familiar solace of Walker Farm, a bucolic redoubt in upstate New York where her Aunt Kate lives. But instead of serenity, Annalisse encounters something more discomfiting: Kate’s son, Jeremy, an unsavory character, has decided to sell the farm, and his mother is legally powerless to stop him. Then Kate’s hired hand, Ethan Fawdray, finds a dead man in the barn, a decomposed body with an identification card that belongs to Thomas Taylor, a name that elicits an astonished gasp from Kate, though she refuses to disclose what it means to her. Later, Kate suddenly vanishes, leaving behind evidence that she “fought off an assailant.” Annalisse is beside herself with worry, and Alec calls private investigator Bill Drake to track down Kate. Bell’s (Stolen Obsession, 2018) second installment of the Annalisse series isn’t a stand-alone novel—the plot makes repeated references to its predecessor and even ends with a hint of yet another volume. Those considering reading this book should read the preceding work first. The plot is busy with layers of drama—Alec is being blackmailed by Karl Brooks, his ex-wife’s paramour, a money-hungry drug dealer. The author has a keen eye for the corrosive effects of long-standing secrets, especially those that haunt families. In addition, the story marches to its conclusion at an indefatigable pace, breathlessly action-packed. But the tale also has a soap-operatic quality to it, delivering histrionic melodrama nearly to the point of inadvertent comedy and stark implausibility. For those readers in search of theatrical hyperbole, Bell delivers with an easily companionable style. 

A lively but campy murder mystery.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9995394-2-2

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Ewephoric

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2020

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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