A brutally realistic look at the devastation hurricanes cause neatly melded with a mystery that keeps you guessing.

AND THE SEA BECAME BLOOD

A detective sweats to solve a murder as a killer storm bears down.

John Jordan—sheriff’s investigator, prison chaplain, recovering alcoholic, doting husband and father—(Bloodshed, 2019, etc.) is called to check on Andrew Irwin, a retired Catholic priest, after an anonymous tip claims he’s dead. Before he reaches Irwin’s former mission church, he receives a panicked call from Carla, the babysitter whose inability to cut ties with her addict father, who drops in at will, puts both Jordan’s daughters and her own son in danger. Finally arriving at the church, he finds Irwin dead and Mary, his beloved mastiff, missing. There are no signs of violence, but there’s a sweet-smelling plastic cross in Irwin’s mouth. The manager of a nearby hardware store who saw Irwin the day before looking dizzy and pale sent Levi, one of her employees, to walk him home. Irwin evidently died a painful death from drinking antifreeze, an odorless, sweet-tasting liquid easily masked in many drinks. Irwin was a quiet man who had few enemies, none of whom seemed to dislike him enough to kill him. But Jordan conscientiously looks into every possible suspect before the approach of Hurricane Michael sidelines his investigation. Before he can pack off his wife and children to her mother’s inland home, a hysterical Carla calls to tell him that while she slept, her father took all three children with him to check on his brother in Mexico Beach. Driving through unimaginably difficult conditions to the devastated beach town, Jordan enlists help from a pair of wannabe storm chaser twins who desert him just as he finds the girls. Feeling lucky to be alive, he returns to his ravaged town to ponder a murder that seems to have no motive.

A brutally realistic look at the devastation hurricanes cause neatly melded with a mystery that keeps you guessing.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947606-36-4

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Pulpwood Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters...

TRUE COLORS

Female rivalry is again the main preoccupation of Hannah’s latest Pacific Northwest sob saga (Firefly Lane, 2008, etc.).

At Water’s Edge, the family seat overlooking Hood Canal, Vivi Ann, youngest and prettiest of the Grey sisters and a champion horsewoman, has persuaded embittered patriarch Henry to turn the tumbledown ranch into a Western-style equestrian arena. Eldest sister Winona, a respected lawyer in the nearby village of Oyster Shores, hires taciturn ranch hand Dallas Raintree, a half-Native American. Middle sister Aurora, stay-at-home mother of twins, languishes in a dull marriage. Winona, overweight since adolescence, envies Vivi, whose looks get her everything she wants, especially men. Indeed, Winona’s childhood crush Luke recently proposed to Vivi. Despite Aurora’s urging (her principal role is as sisterly referee), Winona won’t tell Vivi she loves Luke. Yearning for Dallas, Vivi stands up Luke to fall into bed with the enigmatic, tattooed cowboy. Winona snitches to Luke: engagement off. Vivi marries Dallas over Henry’s objections. The love-match triumphs, and Dallas, though scarred by child abuse, is an exemplary father to son Noah. One Christmas Eve, the town floozy is raped and murdered. An eyewitness and forensic evidence incriminate Dallas. Winona refuses to represent him, consigning him to the inept services of a public defender. After a guilty verdict, he’s sentenced to life without parole. A decade later, Winona has reached an uneasy truce with Vivi, who’s still pining for Dallas. Noah is a sullen teen, Aurora a brittle but resigned divorcée. Noah learns about the Seattle Innocence Project. Could modern DNA testing methods exonerate Dallas? Will Aunt Winona redeem herself by reopening the case? The outcome, while predictable, is achieved with more suspense and less sentimental histrionics than usual for Hannah.

Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters and understanding of family dynamics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36410-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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