A wholly absorbing gumshoe tale elevated by an extraordinary detective.

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A PILGRIMAGE TO DEATH

From the Reverend Cici Gurule Mystery series , Vol. 1

A reverend in New Mexico tries her hand at sleuthing when a recent homicide shares similarities with her twin sister’s unsolved murder in this mystery.

Cecilia “Cici” Gurule’s weekly hike with her detective friend Sam Chastain is cut short by a missing hiker report. Sadly, the two find lawyer Donald Johnson, who’s unmistakably dead from stab wounds. But it’s one particular laceration that most unnerves Cici: through the kidney, just like the stabbing death of her twin, Anna Carmen, over a year ago. This is followed by Cici’s vision of her sister, who tells the reverend to help Sam identify her killer. Cici, who quit as associate reverend in Boston to return to her Santa Fe hometown after her sister’s murder, now heads a local church. She gathers information, initially from her parishioners, but doesn’t like where it’s leading her. That’s because linking the two murders naturally connects Anna Carmen to Donald’s alleged exploits, from an affair to drug trafficking. It’s soon apparent, however, that the killer is watching Cici, as she receives threatening messages and eludes a menacing truck in pursuit. But this doesn’t deter the reverend, who, with Sam’s assistance, plans to see her personal investigation to the end. Padgett’s (A Moonlit Serenade, 2018, etc.) series opener, like any good detective story, gives readers a laudable sleuth. Cici is a chic woman of God: She swears and rides a vintage Harley. But her profession makes her an exceptional detective as well. Characters, for example, often seem reluctant to talk to Sam and more easily respond to the reverend. Likewise, Cici’s empathy is genuine; she speaks a line like “I need you to tell us what happened” with unequivocal concern. Despite her occasional colorful language, there are few curses and mostly implied violence. Padgett’s simple prose and short paragraphs help maintain the story’s unwavering pace. Add to that a handful of dubious characters, and the result is a rock-solid mystery with a smashing reveal near the end and even a subtle twist in the final pages.

A wholly absorbing gumshoe tale elevated by an extraordinary detective.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945090-22-6

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Sidecar Press

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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