A rousing, well-researched thriller by an author who should be encouraged.



A debut novel features Las Vegas casinos, the Russian mob, and a greedy sex worker.

The first part of this tale exemplifies the grim adage that if hapless heroes didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. Jennifer Williams is in Vegas for a commercial real estate convention. Having caught her lover in bed with another woman, she rushes blindly out of town only to stumble onto a robbery in progress at a convenience store in Pahrump, Nevada. Enter Matt Crocker, an impromptu hero, who kills three thugs who work for Russian mobster Vladimer Dudka. Now the Russian mob is after the duo to recover some serious money and wreak vengeance. The Russians have also managed to kidnap Ashley Thomas, Jennifer’s co-worker. Rescuing her involves a very complicated scam to be pulled off at the Stratosphere Tower on the Strip. And it works. In the meantime, the protagonists are hiding out at the Prickly Pear Ranch, where they meet Vegas and Scarlett, two sex workers who enhance and advance the plot. Just when it seems that Jennifer and Matt are getting a break, Scarlett, in it for herself, betrays them, and they are back in Dudka’s murderous hands. More troubles ensue, including shootouts and desperate escapes that are quickly thwarted. This is a very impressive first novel, offering rigorously researched details. Some of the ingredients—Las Vegas, the Russians, a hunky hero who blushes on cue, lawmen who pepper their speech with acronyms—are clichéd but to be expected in a thriller. Fortunately, Lewis knows how to deliver plot twists, things most astute readers will not see coming. His prose style fits a caper set in Vegas. Call it hard-boiled (think Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald) and street-smart with a fillip of flipness (“ ‘It’s an awesome plan.’ Scarlett’s tone was indignant. ‘The FBI has no jurisdiction in Mexico. I have a friend who’s been down there since she was indicted for selling ecstasy. She turns tricks at this dive bar in Ensenada. I’m going to buy the bar…and spend my days drinking piña coladas on the beach’ ”). Vegas—the sex worker—deserves special mention. She is an appealing character: sweet as a favorite sister, perky as a cheerleader, strangely innocent, and an expert in cool stuff like parachuting and casino security.

A rousing, well-researched thriller by an author who should be encouraged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73401-570-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Red Granite Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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