DARK TIDE

The well-worn plot in which people are thrown together on a small boat and mortally threatened by both the forces of nature and the sort of evil that only people can devise is given full and effective treatment in this chill-a-minute thriller from Kennedy (Guard of Honor, 1993, etc.). Two troubled couples—Bill and Jeanne Chester, and Howard and Marilyn Hunter—arrive on Tortola for a vacation cruise on the yacht Cane Maiden. Bill's a teacher in an alternative school whose apparent lack of ambition frustrates his interior designer wife; Howard's a quick-tempered architect whose business is being destroyed by the faltering economy, driving a wedge between him and the more practical Marilyn. Those emotional difficulties are nothing compared to what happens when the captain of their vessel, Steve Berlind, kidnaps the quartet after tying up with a young woman who was acting as a ``mule'' for a major smuggler and has fled the botched hijacking of her latest shipment. Cindy Camilli wasn't part of that hijacking, but events have conspired to make it appear that she was, so there are some very dangerous people on her trail. They're after the more than $5 million in bearer bonds and diamonds she's still carrying, a jackpot that proves more than enough incentive for everyone involved to cross some lines they might never have imagined they would. Spouse turns against spouse, the balance of power shifts and shifts again, and a violent storm almost renders all the disagreements moot. Ultimately, the vacationers are confronted with a great moral dilemma, which finally strips away all their masks and pretensions. A spectacular helicopter attack on the battered ship and a deadly man-to-man confrontation ashore finally settle things. A superb story, with a perhaps not totally unexpected twist at the very end.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-11768-X

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1994

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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