An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.

SIZZLER

In this supernatural novel, the residents of a Florida suburb challenge a dead killer able to jump between bodies.

Margate, Florida, is a quiet suburb full of good neighbors, clean yards, and safe children. It’s the perfect place for recently deceased serial killer Eli Wickenscholz to wreak havoc from beyond “the veil.” As an entity of pure energy, he’d like to re-enter the physical realm. Doing so means absorbing the dark potential lurking in the average citizen. He begins manipulating some of the residents’ “psychic and sexual energy.” Lexi-Jo Lyman, meanwhile, has moved to Margate to start over. Her past involved dating Kono, a con man. Now she’s hiding from Ghost, the hitman who killed Kono. Elsewhere, Toni Arrigone runs the Heaton Motel and Bar. Toni is sure that the business’ former owners, the Muelensteins, hid “a large sum of money” that they didn’t put in the bank. Other Margate denizens caught in Eli’s trap are young Teddy Millhausen-Jones, who can tell that the sex-crazed adults are “under a spell,” and psychic Cueball Kusiniski, who, along with his daughter, Saige, learns that only a special amulet can keep Eli’s essence within a host body of his choosing. Into the mix comes Det. Kellie Sierra to carve logic from the madness. This thriller by Schimanski (Meter of Redemption, 2017, etc.) and Tiernan (Yield, 2016, etc.) feels like quintessential Florida pulp, right down to the disposal of bodies in the Everglades. The tight narrative moves like an alligator through water, giving an equal jolt of life to numerous quirky characters, including Herbert Duvane, an albino computer repairman. He and Lexi-Jo discuss Kundalini energy, which is “the latent blueprint of all that we are and all we are yet to be.” When Eli’s possessions begin, he picks likely and unlikely hosts, providing satisfying twists, among them the killer’s inability to fully control certain people. Florida’s natural magic doesn’t go unnoticed, as in the line “Teddy was mesmerized by the majestic beauty and the foreboding wilderness of the Everglades.” The finale brings surprising closure to various characters, leaving exciting space for a sequel.

An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.

Pub Date: June 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68470-318-0

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services

Review Posted Online: Nov. 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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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