Nick is an action fan’s dream, with the smarts and charm of an exemplary character who warrants a third installment of the...

The Long Squeeze

A NICK SANDERS THRILLER

From the A Nick Sanders Thriller series

A forensics accountant and former fed looking into the death of an FBI pal may have exposed an imminent terrorist attack in the second in Stam’s (The Trust Company, 2012) thriller series.

When venture fund Phoenix Holdings loses three employees, including undercover fed Chuck Engler, in an unexplained plane crash, the FBI calls in Nick Sanders as a consultant. Nick, who’d previously worked in the bureau’s financial crimes unit, joins his girlfriend, Special Agent Lisa Velasquez, in investigating his friend’s involvement in Phoenix. The two initially suspect that Chuck had been on the take, but the agent’s posthumous message for Nick—“follow the money”—points toward a broader conspiracy. Phoenix’s higher-ups dispatch men to follow Nick and Lisa, and soon the couple finds possible links between the company and a planned terrorist strike on the U.S. Despite the protagonist’s white-collar profession (Nick opens the story having just finished auditing a shipping company’s books), Stam’s novel has a staggering amount of action. Nick and Lisa, for one, wind up in the midst of multiple gunfights. Suspense-laden plot points include a mysterious key Chuck leaves for Nick; baddies with the ability to sever communications (i.e., cellphones); and an unexpected ally for the investigating duo. The financial storyline sparks curiosity, especially narrator Nick’s thorough explanation of unfamiliar terms, like shorting stocks. It’s likewise refreshing that the nerdish Nick, an ex-Marine, is physically adept and funny (he left the Marines because his next promotion would make him Lt. Col. Sanders). It’s understandable that the final act focuses on deaths, near deaths, and dodging bullets—particularly with a potential bomb in the equation—but it’s unfortunate that it sidelines Nick’s brainy half. Stam drops in a few twists before the ending; some are predictable, others shocking, but none of them slows down the gleefully rapid pace.

Nick is an action fan’s dream, with the smarts and charm of an exemplary character who warrants a third installment of the series. 

Pub Date: July 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9848174-1-2

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Langford Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2015

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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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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