Thoughtful and exciting—another fine mystery from Horn.

WHEN GOOD MEN DIE

A SAM DAWSON MYSTERY

In this second outing of a strong mystery series, a nursing home murder sparks an investigation into the past of a former circus wrestler and Olympian.

Eight years after the events in The Pumpkin Eater (2013), it’s 2007, and Sam Dawson is still photographing old cemeteries for coffee-table books, this time focusing on Deep Lake, Minnesota. When he arrives with his vintage Airstream, he decides to take his dog to visit the Whispering Pines Care Center and perhaps snap some photos of residents (he’s getting bored with cemeteries). But Aimee Pond, the nursing supervisor, is thornily unfriendly, and the local sheriff is more so, particularly after an old woman is found murdered at the nursing home, putting Sam under suspicion. Interspersed with the 2007 story are flashbacks jumping back and forth through the memories of Whispering Pines resident Hans Gottlieb, who’s nearly 100 years old. Hans’ son Will knows almost nothing of his father’s life except that he worked on the railroad. But Hans has many secrets, including having been a champion athlete and masked carnival wrestler. His curiosity piqued by the mysteries swirling around Deep Lake, and for his own sake, Sam must find answers while also settling the question of what to do next professionally. Horn, in his third novel, again demonstrates the intelligence and complexity of the first Sam Dawson mystery, elevating the story beyond the usual detective business of clues, evidence, hidden connections, and suspects. Many pieces do fall into place at last but more for the reader than for Sam. An intriguing theme pervades the novel: the impossibility of truly reconstructing the pasts of those who become lost to us through time or dementia. Even our own parents are essentially opaque: “At best, we only see glimpses of who they really were,” Aimee says. Added to this is our desire to be deceived, which the carnival scenes colorfully illuminate. Horn’s characterization goes deep, and he paces events well, saving some surprising revelations for the end.

Thoughtful and exciting—another fine mystery from Horn.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9835894-5-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Granite Peak Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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