The skilled, perpetually poised detective shines brightly in this series, be it a novel, comic book, or any other format.

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DENVER MOON

METAMORPHOSIS

An ultracool Mars private eye works a case of robocide in this sci-fi prequel.

Destroying a robot, or botsie, on Mars is akin to murder and consequently a felony. When Jard Calder, a botstringer who runs botsies for prostitution, loses several of them to robocide, he hires Denver Moon. Someone has pulled only a part or two from each botsie and stolen its chip as well. With help from Smith, an artificial intelligence installed in Denver’s gun, the detective surmises the murder weapon is a mining tool. As Denver injected Smith with a copy of her grandfather’s memories, the AI often treats her like a beloved granddaughter and is protective of her. And she may need protection when her search for a murder suspect leads her to Blevin’s Mine, where someone from Denver’s past is invested in seeking revenge against her. Fighting to stay alive soon takes precedence over the case before she ultimately ends up in Mars City’s precarious lower levels. This is where Denver unravels the mystery, though the motive for robocide is not as straightforward as she may have anticipated. This graphic novel by the team of Hammond and Viola (Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars, 2018, etc.) is a collection of three comic-book issues. It’s an adaptation of the authors’ short story, which is included at the volume’s end, along with a gallery and concept art. Though the fast-paced narrative is brief, it proficiently displays Denver’s laudable qualities. She’s coolly apathetic, suggesting Jard find another investigator if he’s unhappy with her efforts, and composed even when certain she’s in danger. Smith is a stellar companion, convinced that, despite being an AI, it loves Denver. Furthermore, the classic Smith & Wesson revolver’s “cannon mode” transforms it into a more powerful weapon. The dialogue is often brief but witty. Denver, for example, promises to buy Smith a new battery if they survive men out for her blood. The short story’s descriptive prose is akin to the novel’s illustrations: A shot from Smith “sliced through” people, “scattering their lifeless bodies across the floor.” Lovett’s (Boomer and Friends!, 2017, etc.) exemplary artwork makes the white-haired Japanese heroine look both formidable and chic. Panels are likewise vibrant, from the shadowy, blue-tinged lower levels to Denver’s monochromatic perspective in sharp black and white.

The skilled, perpetually poised detective shines brightly in this series, be it a novel, comic book, or any other format.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9997736-5-9

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...

HOME FRONT

 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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