Proficiently develops characters, relationships, and storylines in the midst of nonstop action.

HIDDEN SEA

The fifth entry in Arceneaux’s (North Beach, 2015, etc.) thriller series finds the Sweetwater family searching for one of their own—19-year-old Augie, who inexplicably vanished in Mexico.

Though it’s been only a couple of days since Raul Sweetwater’s heard from his son, Augustus, he’s still worried. Augie had been touring the Mexican Gulf Coast to touch base with clients of Sweetwater Marine, the family’s Texas business. Raul voices his concerns to his uncle Charlie, and despite Charlie’s assurance that Augie is fine, the family’s phone calls to customers and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City have turned up nothing. So Charlie and Raul head south. Charlie flies to the southern end of the Gulf in Veracruz, while his nephew works his way down the coast until the two reconnect in Tuxpan. Both men—hearing stories of Mexican drug cartels as well as a vicious one-eyed pirate named Mal de Ojo (Evil Eye)—surmise that someone has kidnapped Augie. In the meantime, the dazed teen awakens on a boat, held captive and secured by a chained metal collar. Now effectively a slave, Augie can wait for rescue or try to escape, either option providing the distinct possibility that he won’t survive. Arceneaux sets a breathless pace from the beginning by separating Charlie and Raul, who gather info and clues twice as quickly. In the same vein, perspective from Augie bolsters suspense. He’s introduced on the ship, initially baffled as to how he ended up there. His scenes are often bleak, courtesy of his brutal captors, but the story eases tension with comic relief. Augie, for example, imagines a letter to his family: “Dear Mom, Dad, and Sis—It’s been a good month for pillage and plunder.” The tale references events from preceding books, though narrative context ensures readers who are just joining the series won’t be lost.

Proficiently develops characters, relationships, and storylines in the midst of nonstop action.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9968797-4-3

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Brent Douglass

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2017

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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