Surprisingly reflective tough guys elevate an overloaded thriller.

The Deadly Tropic Snow

In this military adventure, a tight-knit team goes on a mission to find who’s responsible for poisoning drug users.

In Unnecessary Evils (2010), Ramsey introduced an elite, covert special operations unit tasked with infiltrating global hot spots. Led by U.S. Army Maj. Tom Curran, the team consists of Curran’s best friend, Chief Warrant Officer Constantine “Connie” Caraballo, staff sergeants Alex Fillippi and Oscar Perez, and Chief Warrant Officer Calvin King. In this installment, set some two years after the first, the team’s equilibrium is shaken; Connie is still pulling himself together after his wife was killed in an accident, and now his cousin Sal Sontoro has died. Worse yet, the team fears their recent covert operation—to implant tracking devices in illegal drug supplies—is related to the poisoning of Sal and other drug users. As the team vows to find out the truth behind the deaths, Curran gets encouragement from a strange but oddly familiar man, who tells him, “The mission you’re on now can tip the balance of good and evil.” A series of exciting, dangerous, and often violent escapades take the men through Panama, Mexico, Florida, and Haiti, from a cruise ship to a border town to a gated jungle lair. As the team handles unexpected twists, they find themselves confronting a conspiracy at the highest levels. Ramsey’s attention to character lifts this novel above standard guys-and-guns stories. These men have emotional as well as violent work to do, and their camaraderie is touching. Some readers may disagree with aspects of the book’s ideology, particularly regarding drugs, but the characters do discuss such issues thoughtfully. Ramsey also has a good ear for snappy dialogue and seems to know his military stuff. Unlike the lean, muscular protagonists, though, the book is overweight and slow, as it’s larded with inessential logistical details, editorializing, and information dumps (“[Belize’s] largest city, Belize City, is a peninsula only 3 ½ miles wide and 2 ½ miles high. The city is home to a third of the country’s population, about 300,000 people”). Its punctuation could also have used a cleanup.

Surprisingly reflective tough guys elevate an overloaded thriller.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4575-1436-4

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

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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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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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