A powerful, lovingly rendered page-turner full of intense emotion.

PAST OBSESSION

Taylor (Stones Skipping on Water, 2017, etc.) delivers a treatise on attachment, fate, and the romance of the past in this sci-fi mystery.

Jim Mercer has been many things to many people, but he’s not a quitter. A freelance reporter and thriller author, he drifts through his early 30s until he gets an assignment from the Los Angeles Times to write a piece on Emily Torrance, a 1940s painter who was brutally murdered early in her career and whose work is now set for an upcoming exhibition. He figures that the story would make a better novel than a nonfiction piece—that is, until he sees a picture of Emily. After looking at her self-portrait and the rest of her work, he quickly becomes enraptured. While digging for more information about her life and death, he finds something shocking: an intimate film strip of Emily’s—with him in it. Armed with apparent proof that his feelings for Emily are based on something real—however impossible that may seem—Jim puts all his investigative skills toward a new task: finding out how he can travel back in time, find Emily, and find a way to save the woman he loves once and for all. The novel has the classic pacing and style of a mystery thriller, and it’s no mean feat that the tension remains high even during the portions of the book that take place in the present, well past Emily’s death. Indeed, Jim’s obsession will cause readers to long for the next piece of information, the next step that brings him closer to Emily. What’s more, Emily proves to be an intriguing character in her own right, caught between her no-nonsense attitude and her artistic vision and between high culture and the base and cruel men who often dwell in that realm. Finally, the time-travel element not only enriches the plot and gives Jim a powerful motivation for his investigations, but also allows the story to blend traits of both modern thrillers and classic noir—a truly winning combination.

A powerful, lovingly rendered page-turner full of intense emotion.

Pub Date: June 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5213-3725-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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