by Richard A. Erickson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 3, 2018
Erickson enhances a familiar formula with a keen understanding of his characters and a series of plot turns.
A tense kidnapping thriller that takes a deep dive into the murky waters of criminal psychology.
When Johnny and Craig meet, it’s a match made in hell. They meet as cellmates in prison after lengthy downward spirals into addiction, theft, and other petty crime. Both have histories of abuse, although Johnny has taken on the role of abuser, with Craig as his victim. When they get out of prison, they look for a way to make money and vent their rage, and their plans take a dark turn almost immediately. Concocting a scheme to kidnap Christian McKinley, the adopted grandson of one of Minnesota’s most wealthy citizens, is one thing. But when the two actually snatch Christian from a downtown Minneapolis Hilton and demand a $17 million ransom, the cracks in the ex-cons’ volatile relationship begin to show. And although the two had each pledged to be better fathers than their own were, taking care of an actual young man—one with the power and privilege that they were always denied—brings up more issues than they expected. Their mistrust and anger can only lead to a violent conclusion. Debut author Erickson’s prose is solid, offering several twists and using omniscient third-person narration to its fullest extent to provide insight into the characters—even those who don’t understand themselves. His depictions of the various players are emotionally razor-sharp, and he maintains a consistent narrative voice throughout. That said, his descriptions of psychological stresses can sometimes feel overly clinical, especially toward the beginning of the book: “The psychological damage manifested itself in Craig’s behavior as an adolescent and later as an adult, yet people around him could not read the messages his body was sending. His own messages even confused him and intensified his already fragile self-esteem.” This choice may alienate some readers, but those who like psychological profiling in their crime fiction will enjoy its depth.Erickson enhances a familiar formula with a keen understanding of his characters and a series of plot turns.
Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2018
Page Count: 154
Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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