THE HANGED MAN

Murder and kidnaping are only the tip of the iceberg in this extravagant, yet soberly plotted, tale of parapsychology run amok. Three years ago, Mira Morales’s husband Tom walked into a convenience store at the wrong moment and was shot to death by a thief wearing lime-green shoelaces. Now psychic Mira’s just had a horrific vision of another killing. The victim this time is criminologist/shrink Andrew Steele, who’d be renowned for his pioneering work on the Delphi project if it hadn’t been kept top secret. And for good reason: Delphi had sought out convicts with psychic powers, trained them as spies and killers for the CIA, and toppled the Carter presidency. Now three escaped Delphi subjects—telepath Vic Indrio, remote viewer Eddie Manacas, and telekinetic Hal Bennet, who sports lime-green shoelaces—have joined forces for a bad-psychics’ reunion. Their old handler Steele is their first target, and wily incoming FBI deputy director Lenora Fletcher (whom they accurately predict will be drawn into the case) their second. Meantime, though, Hal Bennet has big plans for Steele’s wife Rae, whom he spirits off to his shack in the Everglades, planning to woo her without informing her that her husband no longer presents an obstacle. Hal’s ability to reach into the minds of his enemies and victims, making them do whatever he wants or causing them blinding pain, makes him one scary guy. Even scarier is the prospect that the allegedly good guys—Rae Steele, Mira Morales (whose grandmother is also on hand to display her psychic powers), about-to-be-riffed Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Wayne Sheppard, ruthless careerist Lenora Fletcher, and Richard Evans, Fletcher’s Deep Throat in the CIA—are so consumed with infighting that they’ll never be able to fend off all the bad karma. MacGregor (Mistress of the Bones, 1995, etc.) pulls out all the stops—you’ll find more psychics here than in the year-end issue of the National Enquirer—yet still manages to keep the pot boiling, if not quite believably, until the final surprise.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-57566-266-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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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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Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters...

TRUE COLORS

Female rivalry is again the main preoccupation of Hannah’s latest Pacific Northwest sob saga (Firefly Lane, 2008, etc.).

At Water’s Edge, the family seat overlooking Hood Canal, Vivi Ann, youngest and prettiest of the Grey sisters and a champion horsewoman, has persuaded embittered patriarch Henry to turn the tumbledown ranch into a Western-style equestrian arena. Eldest sister Winona, a respected lawyer in the nearby village of Oyster Shores, hires taciturn ranch hand Dallas Raintree, a half-Native American. Middle sister Aurora, stay-at-home mother of twins, languishes in a dull marriage. Winona, overweight since adolescence, envies Vivi, whose looks get her everything she wants, especially men. Indeed, Winona’s childhood crush Luke recently proposed to Vivi. Despite Aurora’s urging (her principal role is as sisterly referee), Winona won’t tell Vivi she loves Luke. Yearning for Dallas, Vivi stands up Luke to fall into bed with the enigmatic, tattooed cowboy. Winona snitches to Luke: engagement off. Vivi marries Dallas over Henry’s objections. The love-match triumphs, and Dallas, though scarred by child abuse, is an exemplary father to son Noah. One Christmas Eve, the town floozy is raped and murdered. An eyewitness and forensic evidence incriminate Dallas. Winona refuses to represent him, consigning him to the inept services of a public defender. After a guilty verdict, he’s sentenced to life without parole. A decade later, Winona has reached an uneasy truce with Vivi, who’s still pining for Dallas. Noah is a sullen teen, Aurora a brittle but resigned divorcée. Noah learns about the Seattle Innocence Project. Could modern DNA testing methods exonerate Dallas? Will Aunt Winona redeem herself by reopening the case? The outcome, while predictable, is achieved with more suspense and less sentimental histrionics than usual for Hannah.

Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters and understanding of family dynamics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36410-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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