Like a familiar roller-coaster ride; readers may see where the story’s headed but that doesn’t make it any less exhilarating.

The Millionaire's Cross

In Nudo’s (Phantom Reunions, 2005, etc.) thriller, three men need only do a small favor to win a big fortune; unforeseen consequences ensue.

Alex Neitzel’s annual trip with little brother Trevor to visit the spot where their sister killed herself takes an unexpected turn. Alex’s car dies, and the men, along with Trevor’s partner, Chad, are stranded. At a nearby cemetery, they help the elderly David Kendrick, who had collapsed. David thanks them with an offer of $50 each if they simply mail a letter for him, promising more money later for more favors. The next one, though, is a doozy—kill David’s wife, which he claims will be a mercy killing—but the pay is commensurate with the request, $5 million to split three ways. The guys seem reluctant but soon are on a trail of lies and murder, especially because $5 million goes a lot farther if it’s split just two ways or not at all. The author’s methodically paced (but never plodding) novel establishes its tone early. David is immediately unnerving. Alex seems like the levelheaded one of the trio, chauffeuring the couple, who are more interested in getting high than finding a way home. Plot twists abound. The initially likable protagonist, with his pregnant wife, Emily, at home, gets decidedly unlikable as the story progresses. But with each appalling act, the characters grow increasingly fascinating. There are so many shocks in Nudo’s book that readers are bound to guess at least some of the developments. But Nudo knows to keep the plot spiraling while allowing a startling event to resonate before the next one occurs.

Like a familiar roller-coaster ride; readers may see where the story’s headed but that doesn’t make it any less exhilarating.

Pub Date: July 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4997-0861-5

Page Count: 194

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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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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