A fresh and engaging take on the familiar hard-boiled detective novel.



From the Maxwell Floyd series , Vol. 1

A disgraced New York City police detective–turned–PI takes a shot at redemption in Leton’s debut crime tale.

In a noir-ish future, homicide cop Maxwell Floyd’s rule-breaking pursuit of a criminal ended in the accidental death of a 7-year-old girl. He started drinking (again) to cope with the guilt, but what seemed the solution to one problem eventually became the cause of other difficulties in his life. After losing his job and his wife due to his increasingly frequent intoxication and resultant misconduct, Max was forced to try to make ends meet as a private investigator. He’s still struggling with his drinking habit, though, so this is easier said than done; he spends most of his time in Sam Duggin’s Fifth Street Bar, chatting with the attractive owner and bartender, Molly Mitchell. When Max is offered a case by one Mr. Fletcher from the police commissioner’s office—if he completes it to his employer’s satisfaction, he may earn his cop job back—he can’t say no. The crime at hand: the brutal murder of Claire Hemsley, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. Max must solve the crime without stepping on the toes of the cops who are already working the case, and the PI is motivated and anxious to beat his competition. However, it soon becomes clear that Fletcher hasn’t been completely forthright about the details of the situation—and he may not have been honest about why he came to Max in the first place. As the private eye tracks down leads and closes in on a suspect, he even starts to wonder about his own sanity. Leton’s fictional world is wonderfully distinctive. Although parts of it feel as if they’ve been lifted right out of Raymond Chandler’s work, as readers get deeper into the story, they realize that it takes place in a New York full of datapads, hovercraft, and hand-held weapon scanners. The prose is tense and moody during the suspenseful scenes as well as during the action sequences: “As I ran toward the riverbank, two Air Patrol flyers came screaming in from the distance….Their wailing sirens and thunderous fan-jets provided only a brief satisfaction.” Max fits the hard-boiled detective template to a T, and yet the author somehow avoids making him into a boring stereotype. The PI is just messed up and unreliable enough to make his demons feel authentic and not just like set dressing. Readers will enjoy living inside the detective’s head as he makes his way through the city streets, and they’ll savor attempting to figure out the crime along with him. The novel hits all the familiar notes of the PI genre plus a few more; its self-awareness and enthusiasm for its milieu are infectious and make the book even more enjoyable. This is only the first in an ongoing series of Max Floyd books, and readers will certainly be curious to see where Leton takes his gumshoe in the future.

A fresh and engaging take on the familiar hard-boiled detective novel.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-979427-26-5

Page Count: 392

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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

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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.


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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