The results are absorbing, unspectacular, predictable, and satisfying.

LOVE YOU DEAD

Surrey DCI Roy Grace (Billionaire, 2015, etc.) goes up against a silky black widow—and a pair of unwelcome blasts from his own past.

Jodie Bentley was never as attractive as her older sister, Cassie, and her parents drilled it into her head early on that beauty was the key to a have-it-all lifestyle. Years after doing some serious work on both her body and her family, she’s snared elderly American financier Walt Klein, whom she entices onto the slopes of an Alpine ski resort and to his death. Mission accomplished, except that Walt turns out to be a lot less wealthy than Jodie thought—he was even facing prosecution for a Ponzi scheme—and she has to pin her dreams to someone else, someone like high-profile London art dealer Rowley Carmichael. Rollo really is wealthy, and it’s not likely he’ll last long at all. In between her two beaus, Jodie’s hooked up in New York with mob bagman Romeo Munteanu, a brief encounter that seriously enriches her but puts Tooth, a professional killer, on her trail. As Tooth and his unwitting prey ponder their homicidal plots, Grace gets some disconcerting news about two people he thought were dead: Sandy, the wife who abandoned him when he took up with Cleo, the medical tech he impregnated and married, and Dr. Edward Crisp, the general practitioner who killed five people and sent Grace to the hospital before he vanished. Sandy’s been struck by a taxi in Munich; Crisp has been arrested in France. A witless burglar who breaks into Jodie’s Brighton home and pays a high price for his foolishness improbably sets Grace on the scent of both Jodie and Tooth. But there’s no evidence to speak of against her, and he’s as insubstantial as a murderous will-o’-the-wisp. Except in the Crisp subplot, which remains very sub indeed, James dots every I and crosses every T.

The results are absorbing, unspectacular, predictable, and satisfying.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4472-5581-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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