A spirited Hollywood mystery that has its moments.


An aspiring Hollywood starlet struggles to launch her career while a serial killer stalks young actresses in this novel.

Ariel Ames has just arrived in Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. At first, things don’t look so great. She has no agent or connections; she’s living with an obnoxious, sex-crazed roommate; and a serial murderer called the Angel Killer is slaughtering young redheads in outlandish, dramatic ways. Ariel, a redhead, signs up for self-defense classes yet also lands a job dancing at a bikini bar under the stage name Scarlet. Her workplace is called Misty’s Menagerie of Misfits, Marvels, and Maladjusts, and is something of a local institution. Soon after she begins, she attracts the attention of a talent agent while a coffee shop encounter lands her a date with an actor named Nate Harris. As the Angel Killer continues to terrorize the city, he broadcasts a message to inform the world that he is murdering people to absolve them of their sins. “What I do, I do out of mercy, not malice. I kill because I care,” he says. Special Agent Marcus August of the FBI investigates the case as the body count keeps rising. But things take a much more sinister turn when Ariel begins receiving notes from the killer. Afraid but not wanting to run and hide, she has to balance her desire to quickly build her career with the haunting menace of the Angel Killer, who seems ready to murder again. Adam’s (American Asshole, 2016, etc.) book is somewhat short. But for a concise novel, he tackles a great deal of weighty issues, no small feat for a writer whose protagonist met her agent at a strip club but refuses to do on-screen nudity. The Hollywood he writes about is full of men harboring motives and agendas, with the ever-present threat of sexual harassment or even rape always looming. In addition, the serial killer’s crimes are a shocking example of misogyny. This work isn’t as in-depth or as humorous as Adam’s wonderful debut, American Asshole, and there isn’t space to develop all of the characters. Even so, lighthearted irony does shine through, and the conclusion delivers an inventive, theatrical climax.

A spirited Hollywood mystery that has its moments.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64606-951-4

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Post-Entropy

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2018

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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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