The author delivers another top-notch thriller, full of colorful characters, financial schemes, and exotic backdrops.

YEAR OF THE RAT

THE 2008 FINANCIAL MELTDOWN. BLATANT FINANCIAL TERRORISM?

A novel blends espionage, retribution, and economics.

In this sequel to East of Egypt (2009), the author literally resurrects David Anderson, a longtime Special Forces operative and financial wizard. David had been left for dead by a CIA assassin after his mentor, Bill Murphy, and his lover Srey An were killed in the same duplicitous mission. A cardiac surgeon–turned-monk saves David’s life. The monk’s brother is Gen. Zhao, an ambitious military leader in China. Zhao takes advantage of David’s thirst for revenge and unique skill set to inflict fiscal ruin not only on the CIA, but also the United States itself, which the general blames for the death of his son. After Zhao uses—then kills—David’s contacts in this venture, the protagonist vows vengeance. As he explains to Ming Li, Zhao’s former aide and David’s new lover, the general remains a meticulous adversary: “Zhao kills as though he is moving chess pieces and eliminating people is of no greater consequence than removing chess pieces that threaten his King.” Initially, David gets assistance from the Americans and the Russians, but changing leadership results in them pursuing the hero as well. Still, David uses his brains, muscle, and drive as he attempts to complete his operation. In his narrative, Grant (The Lebensborn Experiment, 2011, etc.) makes effective use of regulatory loopholes in the mid-2000s that allow Zhao to rain monetary havoc on America. The taut thriller is almost a cautionary tale for today’s less-regulated economy. In this second volume of the series, David continues his evolution, as his two lovers have introduced him to Buddhism’s tenets, some of which, especially karma, he takes to heart. This spiritual turn raises the question of what’s next for a man who has been so immersed in violence for much of his adult life. One of the story’s drawbacks is that Zhao and, to a lesser degree, the Russian intelligence chief, Dmitri Vasiliev, are rather one-dimensional. In addition, in David’s brutal world, intriguing characters fall way too quickly. But the author has shown the ability to create believable new players to populate his series. So it’s a safe bet that Grant will forge a strong cast for his next installment.

The author delivers another top-notch thriller, full of colorful characters, financial schemes, and exotic backdrops.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4610-2009-7

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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