NOW AND IN THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH

An engrossing tale nicely balancing war and peace.

This gripping thriller is about love and the Troubles—the love of a man and woman for each other, for freedom and for Ireland.

Davy McCutcheon, introduced in Pray for Us Sinners (2000), is a bomb maker for the Provisional IRA. He's deeply in love with Fiona Kavanagh, but he's been sentenced to decades in the Maze prison. She immigrates to Vancouver and in time comes to love another man—but her love for Davy never dies. Then, after nine years, Davy and fellow inmates stage a prison break. Unlike some others, Davy decides he's through with violence. All he wants is to reunite with Fiona, which will be a tough task indeed. Never mind that she may have moved on forever. He may not even make it out of Northern Ireland alive, because his comrades insist on using his skills for their dangerous plot to bomb a police barracks. The novel’s setting goes back and forth between Fiona’s Vancouver and Davy’s County Tyrone. Fiona now leads a peaceful life with a decent job and a good man, while Davy may be recaptured or killed at any moment. Both storylines are engrossing, but all the real action is with Davy. The killing, the weapons caches, the plotting and betrayal contrast sharply with the idyllic freedom of a peaceful and quiet Vancouver; the only common feature of both settings is the rain. Although this book is a sequel, it reads well as a stand-alone thriller/love story. Davy wants no part of killing anymore, but the choice may not be his. Can he find love and peace, or must he bomb his way to freedom? Taylor writes in rich physical and cultural detail, holding the reader’s attention right to the end.

An engrossing tale nicely balancing war and peace.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3519-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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