A plot as complex as a hall of mirrors, and almost as gripping as a death threat.

THE LOST ARMY OF CAMBYSES

An ancient Egyptian tomb holds the key to a grisly string of modern-day murders, in an engaging first outing by archaeologist Sussman.

In Egypt, they say, you can’t dig a grave without hitting a pharaoh’s tomb. This has made the dusty and impoverished country famous for two ancient professions: archaeology and antiquities smuggling. A most distinguished representative of the former was Michael Mullray, an English Egyptologist recently found murdered at an excavation in Saqqara, while one of the shadier members of the latter was Abu Nayar, whose mutilated corpse washed up on the banks of the Nile at about the same time. Inspector Yuseuf Khalifa of the Luxor Police is charged with solving the crimes, and he immediately suspects a link between the killings. His suspicions are confirmed when an elderly antiquities dealer in Cairo is murdered in his shop—but not during a burglary. Khalifa is aided in his investigation by Mullray’s daughter Tara, who mentions that the necropolis her father had been excavating was filled with the smell of cigar smoke after her father’s murder. Had this anything to do with the fact that both the shopkeeper’s and Nayar’s corpses were riddled with cigar burns? Khalifa also finds that the Egyptian and British governments are extremely interested in the case—though the representatives of the British embassy and the Egyptian Antiquities Bureau who join the investigation seem more interested in learning how much he knows than in providing him with any information from their files. How political can archaeology be? Let’s just say that, somewhere in the background, the mysterious figure of dreaded Egyptian terrorist Sayf al-Tha’r looms over the case—and over Khalifa himself. And, soon enough, Khalifa and Tara will be investigating a plot against their own lives.

A plot as complex as a hall of mirrors, and almost as gripping as a death threat.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-30153-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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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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