Though bumpy at times, this welcome addition to the crime-fiction genre features a refreshingly new type of heroine.

INTERSECTION

In this law enforcement procedural much in the vein of William J. Caunitz and Bill Pronzini, two FBI agents are assigned to protect a congressman who’s getting threatening letters.

Healy’s taut debut novel launches immediately into the action: FBI agents Alex Toles (a female) and Brian Fallon are assigned to investigate anonymous threatening letters being sent to New York “golden boy” Congressman Christopher O’Brien. When they get to New Rochelle, Fallon will pose as a Secret Service addition to the congressman’s staff, while Toles will act as a PR assistant to O’Brien’s strong-willed ex-wife, Cassidy, an English teacher, and thereby be in a good position to watch over both Cassidy and her and O’Brien’s 6-year-old son, Dylan. A sexual and romantic attraction sparks between idealistic Cassidy and love ’em–and–leave ’em Toles—fairly standard for the genre, except for the lesbian bent. The novel’s matter-of-fact approach to that point will exasperate some readers even as others might appreciate how candid it is. Both Toles and O’Brien have ties to the president; the congressman is “point person on several key pieces of legislation,” and the agent served under the president years ago when they were both stationed in Iraq. The central drama of the plot is well-handled, as it gradually becomes apparent that there are higher stakes at play than a relatively simple case of an obsessed stalker. But the writing can sometimes fall flat: Toles “was tall and muscular but still feminine in a way that was almost indescribable,” and she “had a presence that Cassidy could not describe.” More importantly, some of the technical details of the plot aren’t convincing, particularly since Toles pays more attention to Cassidy than she does to her assignment. The complex depictions of both Toles’ and Cassidy’s sexualities and personalities are refreshing, however, and the book’s climactic action scenes, though predictable, are well-paced.

Though bumpy at times, this welcome addition to the crime-fiction genre features a refreshingly new type of heroine.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615934181

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Bumbling Bard Creations

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2014

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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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