An entertaining character study and effective thriller.


From the Griffith Crowe series , Vol. 2

A law firm’s fixer finds himself on trial for murder after his latest job takes a deadly turn.

“ ‘We have this client with a…special request.’ Griff shook his head. ‘It always starts this way, doesn’t it?’ ” That’s how this series opener begins, and it’s a mostly auspicious one. Griffith Crowe is “a badass,” a “tall, dark and dangerous” former Navy SEAL and pilot whose past exploits are intriguingly hinted at when his college friend/fellow veteran/high-octane law firm rainmaker calls on him for another “sensitive matter.” “Am I going to regret this––again?” Crowe asks of the request to retrieve a $1 million Jackson Pollock painting purloined by Helena, a client’s ravishing ex-wife. Turns out that’s just a MacGuffin; the real assignment is to retrieve for Helena personal items that belonged to her recently deceased father, including his private journals. That part isn’t too taxing; the tricky bit is that once Crowe gets them, he and Helena become targets. Why? Perhaps her father’s helicopter mishap was not an accident. Suspects include Helena’s estranged half brother, who owns 50% of the shares in their father’s company. The company’s managing director owns a “tie-breaker” number of shares, but he is bumped off. And when a rising young associate at a law firm also winds up dead, Crowe is arrested. All that readers need to know about Bass’ (Murder by Munchausen, 2019, etc.) intended tone for the book can be glimpsed in the author’s photograph, which depicts the novelist pointing a gun at his typewriter. More often than not, his sentences achieve just the right temperature for hard boil, as in this scene setter: “A place where grand strategies” and harebrained “schemes were incubated, hatched and sometimes celebrated, sometimes autopsied.” Or this response when one character is asked about the rationale for shooting someone five times: “Because when I squeezed the trigger a sixth time, it just went click.” Crowe makes for a compelling enough leading man, but the novel’s breakout character is “crusty old country lawyer” E.L. Johnson. His enjoyable courtroom antics strike just the right Matlock note. The Pollock misdirection muddles things early on, and the banter between femme fatale Helena and Crowe is lame, but once those are dispensed with, the story twists and turns with ease. The sequel could use a little more polish and a lot more Johnson.

An entertaining character study and effective thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946266-11-8

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Electron Alley Corporation

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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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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