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CHARADE

The queen of Texas melodrama takes metaphor perhaps a step too far as she pits her heart-transplant-patient heroine against a serial killer obsessed with stopping her new heart. Having as a child survived Hodgkin's disease, her parents' double suicide, and life in a series of substandard foster homes, feisty redhead Cat Delaney is more than able to wisecrack her way through a heart transplant operation at the peak of her career. Famous as a star of the television soap opera Passages, Cat experiences both a literal and figurative change of heart after her surgery, abruptly opting to drop her acting career, move to San Antonio, and create a local news segment aimed at matching abandoned children with good adoptive homes. She breaks off an affair with Dr. Dean Spicer, her wealthy cardiologist, and falls madly in love with Alex Pierce (``His tongue was nimble, his appetite carnal''), a Houston cop turned mystery writer whose sudden appearance in her life may not be coincidental. When newspaper articles describing murders of other heart transplantees begin appearing in Cat's mailbox, she realizes she's being stalked by a lunatic obsessed with stilling the heart of a loved one who may or may not be her donor. As the anniversary of Cat's transplant nears, the threat of violence grows greater. But from which direction comes the danger?: From her hostile secretary, possibly related to a woman who was murdered on the day of her transplant? From the stepfather of one of Cat's orphan clients, whose greatest rival may have been Cat's donor? Or (horrors) from sexy Alex, whose past holds more secrets than she could ever guess? Highly schematic and hastily sketched, this nevertheless provides a satisfying dose of Brown's (Where There's Smoke, 1993, etc.) famously raunchy sex scenes (`` `I want to know I'm with a man. I want to be taken. I want—' `You want to be fucked.' ''), and a certain raw enthusiasm that will no doubt increase her legion of fans. (First printing of 300,000; Literary Guild main selection)

Pub Date: May 2, 1994

ISBN: 0-446-51656-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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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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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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