A captivating adventure jammed with characters who, though troubled, try to do the right thing.

THE FAITH MACHINE

In this engrossing spy thriller, Milazzo (Picking Up the Ghost, 2011) asks: What happens when a unit of psychic misfits is asked to save the world?

Dr. Ken Park, a Korean American psychologist and spy, leads Project Dead Blind, a group of damaged psychics who undertake black-ops missions. Their current assignment requires the psychics to recover a Faith Machine, a Soviet-era “psychotronic super-weapon” located in Liberia. They fail spectacularly, as the machine belonging to a former warlord—now known as John the Baptist—is torched, and John, in turn, slaughters dozens of his religious followers. The Dead Blind squad leaves Africa battered and disgraced, returning to civilian life. But they’re hardly out of danger—its agents are stalked by Chinese military intelligence and by the Casemen, a handful of superpowered psychics. While escaping to their West Coast safe house, two of the fugitives even manage to destroy another Faith Machine, this one possessed by a religious zealot–turned-politician. Once the team reaches the safe house, they are sent on another mission to retrieve the final Faith Machine, located in North Korea. All but Park get captured as they near their destination, and they meet the supernatural being behind the Faith Machine, whom they must somehow defeat. Author Milazzo has written this wicked novel with his tongue firmly in cheek, lampooning both the spy and superhero genres. Unfortunate leader Park finds himself wrangling cats, attempting to ride herd over a sextet of operatives who just don’t get along. They also prove to be amateurs who are in over their heads. In order to save the planet from destruction, the agents must learn to combine their abilities—and the world will need a lot of luck to survive. As the plot unfolds, Milazzo does an admirable job of creating characters who, if not embraceable, are definitely realistic. Project Dead Blind unites messy people who are still willing to contribute to the greater good. Readers will root for them to win, largely because their opponents are so despicable.

A captivating adventure jammed with characters who, though troubled, try to do the right thing.

Pub Date: May 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947041-47-9

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Running Wild Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more