RULES OF ENCOUNTER

An engrossing tale of love and betrayal based on the historically arguable proposition that the British knew that German submarines were likely to sink the S.S. Lusitania in 1915 and that- -most especially in the person of Winston Churchill—they in fact wanted the attack to occur so that US would be drawn into the Great War. Kennedy (The Himmler Equation, 1989, etc.) tells the story of British naval officer William Day, sidetracked to a base on the coast of Ireland after he has had the temerity to become romantically involved with the aristocratic Jennifer Beecham. During this time, the British were using the ``rules of encounter,'' the gentlemen's agreement about how naval battles were to be fought, to frustrate the efforts of the powerful German submarine fleet. The rules required U-boats to surface and determine that a vessel was actually involved in the war effort and to allow its passengers and crew to abandon ship before sinking it. Britain, meanwhile, illegally armed supply vessels and attacked German subs while denying the policy to the rest of the world. Here, Day, whose life is complicated by the natural alliance of the Irish populace with the Germans, is unaware that his superiors are using his base to allow the enemy to intercept certain shipping information so that they will attack ``neutral'' ships (a program deemed so vital that His Majesty's government assigns a merciless intelligence officer to eliminate Day if he discovers the truth). His only solace lies in the arms of his civilian aide, Shiela McDevitt. It is, of course, dramatically inevitable that the lovely Jennifer sail on the Lusitania on its fatal final voyage, providing the appropriate cliffhanger as things progress to their inexorable and bittersweet end. Kennedy knows how to tell a story, and in Commander Day he has created a courageous patriot who becomes keenly aware that the evils of war manifest themselves on both sides of the battle. A thought-provoking and enjoyable thriller.

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-06182-X

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1992

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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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