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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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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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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