DEATH AT CROOKED CREEK

From the Jessie O'Bourne Art Mystery series , Vol. 2

Another page-turner featuring a twisty plot, a strong female lead, and some helpful painting tips for aspiring artists.

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Artist and author Cherry (Death on Canvas, 2016) returns with a unique mix of murder, art, and a hefty supply of suspects in this second Jessie O’Bourne mystery.

Dead bodies seem to turn up whenever Jessie returns to Montana. She and her enormous, charmingly privileged cat Jack (aka “Butter Tub”) have been spending a lot of time on the road, attending art showings and gallery meet-and-greets. She was looking forward to some downtime when a friend asked her to fill in as a guest artist at the annual art expo in Crooked Creek, Montana, where locals have been gossiping about a number of strange deaths. They started six months ago, when teenage Adele Nielson was mysteriously shot and killed while driving her father’s tractor on their farm. But Jessie doesn’t know about any of this as she organizes her display and sets up materials for her oil painting classes. The morning after her arrival, though, someone leaves small toy tractors outside her hotel room door. Then she discovers a dead body stuffed into a storage compartment of the Hawk, her trusty motor home. As a result, Jessie is once again pulled into a dangerous murder investigation, and the local sheriff considers her a suspect. Cherry packs her novel with so many characters that readers may find it difficult to keep them all straight in the beginning. More than a handful are hiding one secret or another, which provides the tale with a plethora of red herrings. Although the mystery itself is engaging, much of the fun comes from Cherry’s detailed portraits of the eclectic, quirky creative types that inhabit the art world. For instance, the author shows how Jessie sees everything as a painting in progress: “Glen’s [bald] head became a tiny, empty, round canvas. In her mind, she painted a small robin’s nest on that bare space, the wiry hairs surrounding the spot becoming woven twigs encircling three blue eggs.”

Another page-turner featuring a twisty plot, a strong female lead, and some helpful painting tips for aspiring artists.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72459-299-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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