Wonderful stuff: notch 51 for Parker.

APPALOOSA

If Spenser and Hawk had been around when the West was wild, they’d have talked like Cole and Hitch.

The dialogue shines with a Western drawl in this admirably plotted change of pace from Parker (Double Play, 2004, etc.). Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch ride into Appaloosa, Colts slung serviceably low, and are instantly spotted for what they are: town tamers. “They’re living off us like coyotes off a buffalo carcass,” complains the Appaloosa establishment, meaning a ruthless no-good named Randall Bragg and the hands he employs on his ranch. Their sins include whisky and food consumed but never paid for, horses “borrowed” and not returned, women commandeered whenever. More recently, the marshal and one of his deputies were gunned down in cold blood. Do Cole and Hitch want to replace them? “It’s what we do,” says Hitch. Marshal Cole and Deputy Hitch then set about posting their rules, the same rules that had transformed Gin Springs, for instance, from a wide-open hellhole to a paradigm of civic virtue. Check your firearms at the town limits, Bragg and his hard-cases are ordered. They obey, though of course it requires a tactical killing or two before the rules are accepted as binding. Enter Mrs. Allison French, a woman more beautiful and more complex than is good for the general peace. Cole is smitten—and awed. “Takes a bath every evenin,” he tells his partner. Having seen more of the world than the parochial Cole, West Point graduate Hitch is cautious. Does a dangerous seductress lurk behind the fetching façade? Into town ride the Shelton brothers, quick, mean gunmen several notches above the ordinary. Bragg reappears in the guise of a community booster: slick, plausible and dazzling to short memories. Pervading it all is the winsome widow lady’s private agenda.

Wonderful stuff: notch 51 for Parker.

Pub Date: June 2, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15277-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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