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 years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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