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Exonerated

Understated mystery concentrating on a morally ambiguous legal process—and riveting throughout.

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In Dymond’s debut thriller, New York cops fight to bring a murderer to justice when the victim is a fellow officer’s sister.

The murder and mutilation of a Schenectady County woman unnerves local police. She was, after all, Officer Ed Roletti’s baby sister, Mary. Cops question friends and former boyfriends, but it’s evidence at the scene that narrows the suspects. Three of four sets of prints—the fourth unknown—lead to Ed and a couple of ex-lovers. With Capt. Jim Pollack refusing to believe Ed’s the killer and one ex in jail—that leaves only Chucky Dericardo. Some, like Detective Bill Watkins, aren’t convinced that Chucky’s their guy, but most at the police department see enough to justify arresting him for murder. District Attorney Franklin Dorey believes a conviction could improve his career prospects, but he’s understandably on edge when learning that Chucky hired notorious criminal defense lawyer John Upton. An ensuing trial, with no side dominating the other, ends with a jury’s decision, but it’s far from over. Seven years later, a SWAT raid uncovers something that causes everyone to reexamine Chucky’s case. What follows is a number of surprises, including another trial or two and more murder. The novel starts as a procedural before merging into a legal thriller. It’s a subdued mystery, thanks primarily to the plot’s hefty amount of realism. No incriminating clue, for example, points to a probable killer, and the arrest of Chucky is via process of elimination. Chucky, too, may be a viable suspect, but nothing ties him directly to the body. Told from multiple perspectives, there’s consequently no real protagonist; while a lack of viewpoint from Chucky keeps his guilt/innocence a secret but affords him no chance for sympathy. Female characters barely register, like Tammy Smith, sole woman in Jim’s unit, who disappears early. Nevertheless, the men are fascinating, particularly Bill, who obsessively counts his tie’s polka dots while watching the murder trial. And the ending, which wraps up everything, is bound to stick in readers’ heads.

Understated mystery concentrating on a morally ambiguous legal process—and riveting throughout.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969677-2-3

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Chunky Pops Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2016

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 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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