A well-written mystery about a unique community imbued with a palpable sense of place.

A Dangerous Remedy

A new sheriff tries to untangle a web of murder, domestic terrorism, and secrets in a debut thriller from Fee.

Matt Callahan arrives in Nicolet County, Michigan, bearing emotional and physical scars after an attack brutally disrupted his life as a Chicago cop. His new jurisdiction, spread across several remote islands in the northern end of Lake Michigan, seems like a good location for rebuilding his life. His tiny, tame department mostly handles issues like traffic control and roadkill removal, and his tenacious deputy, Amanda Gillespie, and kindly dispatcher, Julie Banville, help him navigate the islands’ multigenerational Irish community. But a dark underbelly to this peaceful area becomes apparent when Callahan discovers a body buried in the woods. The victim is not a local, and further investigation by Callahan, Amanda, and Julie uncovers connections to a rape case, a supposedly accidental hunting death, mysterious explosions on Native American land, and domestic and Irish paramilitary groups. The novel stands out for its vivid settings; the carefully described people and places of the wild, beautiful Nicolet County make Callahan’s world feel real. A large cast, from a no-nonsense tribal police chief to a drunk who constantly misplaces his boat to an art thief with only the sweetest of motives, conveys a complex, diverse society without falling into stereotype. The writing is brisk and readable, and short chapters allow the plot to churn along pleasantly. An action-heavy sequence near the book’s close, involving Callahan racing to stop a possible terrorist attack, makes the following quieter resolution of the book’s central mystery feel slightly rushed. A few short segments describing Callahan’s attacker back in Chicago feel out-of-place and unneeded. Callahan himself is an appealing character—no-nonsense, smart, and in denial about how deeply the Chicago attack hurt him—but some moments of impulsive behavior (breaking into a home without a warrant, for example) feel unconvincing for such a thoughtful man. Despite these issues, the book remains well-plotted and highly enjoyable.

A well-written mystery about a unique community imbued with a palpable sense of place.

Pub Date: June 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9985119-1-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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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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