An entertaining procedural that skillfully blends police work and personal relationships.


From the State Detective Special Forces series , Vol. 1

Detectives in two U.S. states pursue a serial killer who sees himself as a savior of domestically abused children in this thriller.

Detroit resident Rita Rose has good reason to avoid a romantic relationship. Her ex-fiance, Dr. Zeke Fazul, after committing vehicular homicide, tried to frame Rita by putting her unconscious body behind the wheel. Cleared of official charges, she’s now slowly recovering, thanks in part to her best friend, Detective Jacqueline McSween. Jaq helps Rita find a job as a medical examiner’s assistant and encourages her friend to date again. Soon, Rita meets an airline pilot, Nick Archer, and the two hit it off. Unfortunately, readers know the relationship is already doomed as Nick is a murderer. With access to children’s letters to Santa, Nick zeros in on the kids who write about some form of abuse. He targets individuals responsible for tormenting loved ones, and his M.O.—victims left with broken necks and handmade rosaries—quickly alerts Jaq and her partner, David Maxwell, to a serial killer in the area. At the same time, Nick’s flights frequently take him to Sarasota, Florida, where he tracks down other abusers. The investigating Sarasota detectives, Abel Mendoza and Ronald “Rabbit” Randall, likewise spot similarities among the murders. The two detective teams aren’t initially aware of each other. Meanwhile, an exuberant Rita grows closer to Nick. But his unsavory side gradually emerges, as he’s controlling and prone to reciting biblical passages at odd times. With luck, Rita will uncover more about Nick before it’s too late.  Aquilina (Feel No Evil, 2003), a Michigan circuit court judge, aptly establishes her story as a procedural. For example, the detectives’ periodic discussions at crime scenes or the medical examiner’s table ultimately help them form a profile of the killer. The author also uses these procedural elements for consistent character development. Jaq and David, for example, are hiding an intimate relationship that violates department policy while ME Dr. Towers is a mentor and father figure to Rita. Accordingly, Aquilina’s prose is a solid fusion of police/medical jargon and banter among co-workers and friends. But even with meticulous murder investigations, the ongoing cases aren’t always enlightening. Jaq has a running theory that the killer is inspired by the 10 plagues of Egypt (for example, killing a firstborn or putting lice on a victim). But this ultimately provides no further insights, as the premise involves some earlier murders and suggests ritualistic and religious aspects that the handmade rosaries have already implied. Regardless, Nick and Rita prove to be intriguing characters on their own as well as together. Though Nick is offing bad people (whom not all family members are sad to see go), he’s unmistakably disturbed. Knowing he’s a killer makes his scenes with Rita relentlessly tense, especially when his domineering manner crops up. Rita’s decision to stay with Nick, despite her increasing wariness, is believable: her behavior is akin to that of a battered woman. Indeed, Nick’s treatment of her is psychological abuse. Notwithstanding readers’ knowledge of the killer’s identity, there’s an effective twist near the end.

An entertaining procedural that skillfully blends police work and personal relationships.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73369-640-1

Page Count: 455

Publisher: Bowker

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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