A spirited Hollywood mystery that has its moments.

CITY OF ANGELS

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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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 steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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