TRUE CRIME

When he hears that his father's been shot, Tom Heller, Jr.a true-crime writer like his author (Life for Death, Money to Burn) flies back to America determined to track down Big Tom's killer, only to step into a hornet's nest when he's called into the investigation of another murder he's all too sure is tied to his father's. The latest victimsAndrew Yost and Clay Farinholtare father and son to Elaine Farinholt, whom poor-boy Tom romanced one impossible summer 20 years ago before drop-dead-rich Andrew found out she was pregnant and packed her off to an adoption agency in Texas, where she swore to Tom, when he chased her down, that the baby wasn't his. Now that she's been getting anonymous letters about that baby, she's convinced that he's grown up and killed her family in revengeand Tom's convinced that the mysterious blond man Elaine saw fleeing the murder scene is the same blond man a neighbor saw running from Big Tom's murder. The old lovers strike a brilliantly twisted deal: Tom will sign an affidavit that Elaine was pregnant that summer (all the adoption records having disappeared, the police have naturally zeroed in on her as the #1 suspect) in return for her cooperation in writing a book about the murders (scheming all the time to tie the killings to his father's murder). Meantime, as Clay's pregnant girlfriend Doreen Perry, aided by her strong, stupid brother Darryl and swinish lawyer Curtis Koontz, is pressing a claim on behalf of her unborn child for Andrew's estate, hoping to sweeten the pot by nudging Elaine toward the chair, Tomlying blithely to Elaine, the police, even his trusted brother Buckbegins to wonder who's double-crossing whom. Was there really a baby after all? Was it Tom's? Did Elaine kill Big Tom, and is she trying to seduce Tom to set him up for all three killings? The surprises go off like a giant string of firecrackers, with only the last one a dud. Pulp fiction at its overplotted best.

Pub Date: June 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-73204-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1991

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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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