Jack’s not the most memorable protagonist, but if his future books are as sturdy as this one, his fan base will grow.

THE DARK SIDE OF DEATH

A JACK DUBLIN NOVEL

In Phillips’ debut thriller, a man falsely accused of murder is forced to seek justice by tracking down those who framed him.

Retired cop Jack Dublin should have been a hero after he saved a girl who was being raped. But he (justifiably) shot and killed one of the assailants, the son of Sen. Rothschild. Jack’s fear of retaliation from the senator seems valid when a surveillance gig from ex-FBI agent Bob Lewis turns out to be a setup: The man Jack was watching is murdered with Jack’s stolen revolver. As police search for evidence against Jack, he and attorney Marnie Bloom investigate on their own, hoping to find answers by finding Bob. The author sets the foundation for a suspenseful novel by quickly defining the villains: It’s clear almost immediately that Bob isn’t on the up and up, since he’s planning on selling weapons and classified intel to a group of Middle Eastern terrorists and is also working with the contemptible Rothschild. Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t get many chances to display his skills as a cop or an investigator, managing to evade death or assassination attempts by dumb luck. But the story is wrought with tension, as there’s distrust between nearly everyone: Bob works his own angle with the terrorists, which the senator already suspects, and brings along extra men and guns when it’s time to exchange money for goods; Marnie is concerned about Jack’s reliance on cop-buddy Billy for information; and even the terrorists believe that they have a traitor (possibly a spy) in their midst. There’s very little revealed about Jack’s much-talked-about and estranged father, who Jack believes is responsible for his mother’s death in an automobile accident years earlier. But the ending, which practically guarantees a sequel, teases enough to let readers know there’s a lot for Jack to learn about his father. Phillips rounds out the story with some solid action, including Jack defending himself against his new cellmate, and suitable albeit somewhat predictable romance —Jack notices Marnie’s “curvaceous body” before anything else.

Jack’s not the most memorable protagonist, but if his future books are as sturdy as this one, his fan base will grow.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615597669

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2014

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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