THE SINGLE TWIN

A solid, well-constructed missing person case that features an appealing pair of quirky sleuths.

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A pair of misfit private detectives ply their trade in present-day Chicago in this soft-boiled mystery.

Little, the author of Family Ghosts (2019), introduces two eccentrics with impressive detective skills who are opposites in appearance: Aberforth “Abe” Willard Allard, the divorced father of a 14-year-old daughter, is a lanky, sad-eyed legal genius, and C.S. “Duff” Duffy, the son of a C.S. Lewis fan, is short and stocky, like a former football player—although he’s never gotten close to a gridiron. Duff discovered three murdered bodies years ago, when he was a teenager, and has long suffered from serious obsessive-compulsive disorder, which derailed his promising academic career. Abe and Duff’s normal grind includes lots of legal work and occasional consults with police in which they wield their “weird-ass Sherlock Holmes power,” as one police detective puts it. The pair’s skills are tested when ex–CIA agent Mindy Jefferson gives them $50,000 as a retainer and challenges them to find her when she inevitably goes missing. Her mother, now deceased, had revealed that Mindy had a twin brother, adopted by another family at birth. But while trying to track him down, Mindy began to realize that she was being followed. When Mindy does, in fact, disappear, Abe and Duff must unravel the mystery. Over the course of this amusing novel, Little makes sure that the detectives’ quest and its resolution always provide readers with a fun page-turner. The two heroes both have intriguing backstories, and they both struggle, in different ways, with the niceties of navigating relationships with others. Especially poignant are Little’s accounts of Abe’s efforts to properly parent his growing daughter. These scenes, and the author’s generous application of sly humor throughout the story, effectively make Abe and Duff fully realized characters rather than merely nerdy caricatures.

A solid, well-constructed missing person case that features an appealing pair of quirky sleuths.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79472-350-4

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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