Rude Boy USA

A scattershot story, but one that manages to deliver a historically edifying depiction of the 1960s.

A debut tale of organized crime, political unrest, and love in New York City during the 1960s.

A sophisticated, four-man criminal fraternity, the Chimera Group, also known as “the Rude Boys,” has risen to prominence in Manhattan. One night, a man brutally assaults one of group’s members, John, and Celia Jones, who works at a local nightclub, saves his life. John soon falls in love with her, and she initially responds to his romantic overtures. However, their prospects seem doomed by the fact that he’s already in a loveless marriage. Celia eventually comes to work for the Rude Boys as their bookkeeper and begins a relationship with Ben, the group’s “number three man,” further complicating her relationship with John. She soon learns that the Chimera Group is hemorrhaging cash, due to another partner’s ungovernable drug habit. Meanwhile, the group contends with the unwanted attention of the Italian mob, which views the diverse group with racist disdain. Bolton aptly captures the tempestuous spirit of the time—a volatile brew of political radicalism, crime, racial tension, and sexual libertinism—and her painstaking historical research is evident on virtually every page. However, the prose is consistently plodding and the dialogue leaden, as when Celia aggressively flirts with John: “ ‘If you do dream of me, remember, I like it rough,’ she said as she sashayed to the door….John stood there and stared at her, feeling an intoxicating tactile euphoria in his whole body.” Other than the atmosphere of the decade, there’s little that binds together the meandering plot, which reads more like a successive series of random happenings than a coherent whole. One can’t help but wonder whether Bolton’s formidable command of the setting would have been better employed in a nonfiction work.

A scattershot story, but one that manages to deliver a historically edifying depiction of the 1960s.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5187-5433-3

Page Count: 282

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2016

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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