Sloppy writing, misogynistic themes.

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THE LAST STREET NOVEL

Sensational urban crime story set in Harlem.

Shareef Crawford was raised on some of Harlem’s toughest streets. Instead of joining his crew of friends in a lifetime of illicit pursuits and gangster escapades, Shareef escapes the neighborhood and heads to college. Thanks to perseverance and a heavy dose of ambition, Shareef transforms from a punk into a highly successful African-American writer. Yet despite his career achievements and glorious Florida lifestyle, Shareef is miserable. Escape can’t come soon enough for this spoiled playboy, and he gladly leaves his disgruntled wife, needy kids and demanding mistress to promote his books and seek out new conquests. Ever the solipsist, Shareef is wonderful at rationalizing his misanthropic behavior and self-indulgent lifestyle. While on a book tour in New York City, his pleasure cruise hits some rough waters when a gorgeous fan lands in his lap. After he beds her, she plants a book idea in his head, challenging him to write the story of her friend, a major player who’s doing time for his crimes. The idea resonates with Shareef. He’s been struggling to break out of his tightly cast role as romance author and attract more male readers, and he’s in no rush to reconcile with his wife. Shareef sets about working the streets in Harlem and researching the current leaders in the underground scene. But Shareef’s poking around lands him in serious trouble. Warring factions don’t appreciate his efforts to expose the inner working of their syndicates. Bullets start flying and instead of hunting down a good story, Shareef fights for his life. Tyree (What They Want, 2006, etc.) labors to capture the vernacular of the hip-hop set, and it appear as though he is sweating over each segment of dialogue, resulting in stilted prose and a story that repeatedly stalls.

Sloppy writing, misogynistic themes.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4184-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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