A brainy, fast-moving thriller about memory and identity.


Tasked with investigating a young woman who has forgotten her identity, a man uncovers connections to a secret society.

“Tycoon’s son in brawl,” reads the caption accompanying a photo of Jack Simonetti’s latest escapade. Young, handsome, idle and dependent on his father Leon’s wealth, Jack has no recourse when ordered from New York to London to help out Leon’s old friend Daniel Barone, whose ward, Jenilee, disappeared and lost her memory. Found after more than two years (and now calling herself Eloise Blake), she wants nothing to do with her well-appointed old life; instead, she prefers the dangerous game of living by her wits and practicing “free running,” or parcours. Also a parcoursist, Jack is enjoined by Barone to win Eloise’s trust and convince her to return home. Eloise is suspicious: She’s tormented by hallucinations, half-memories and obsessively remembered numbers, but after Jack saves her life, she accepts his aid. As the two investigate, they uncover links to a secret scientific/mystical society, the Order of Mnemosyne, whose members included Daniel, Leon and Eloise’s mother. The Order ran hubristic experiments that seem connected to Eloise’s current memory problems—but someone wants these memories to remain forgotten, putting her in danger. South African novelist Mostert (Season of the Witch, 2013, etc.) brings together fascinating strands of biology, psychology and mysticism, with astute observations on memory, the past, identity and love. The well-described parcours scenes nicely capture the sport’s dynamic flow—a perfect fit for Eloise’s live-in-the-moment ethos: “Never slow down. If a movement doesn’t work out, don’t agonise over the recovery; just move your body forward. Movement is life. That was what parkour was all about.” Jack’s development from self-centered rich kid to self-sacrificing lover is believably handled, paralleling his growing respect for Eloise’s right and ability to make her own decisions. Mostert skillfully ups the ante with suspenseful episodes of danger leading to a climactic rooftop scene.

A brainy, fast-moving thriller about memory and identity.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1909965201

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Portable Magic Ltd

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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 kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...


Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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