Fast-paced Balkan adventure starring an engaging academician/action hero reminiscent of Indiana Jones.

When Luk Begovic leaves his stagnating university career behind to join Promethia Risk Group, he is soon embroiled in political intrigue and criminal manipulations beyond his imaginings. Promethia, a private company devoted to increasing worldwide gender equality in order to enhance peace and stability, is targeting sex slave trafficking in the war-torn Balkans. Luk and the group quickly link up with a humanitarian organization providing treatment to the former sex slaves. Central to this organization’s success is Dr. Fatmire “Mili” Bektashi, a dedicated woman with a tragic, mysterious past. As the two groups cooperate to confront human trafficking, Luk and Mili find themselves getting closer to each other on a personal level. Together they confront revenge killings, shadowy international alliances, U.N. corruption, mass executions, hidden family relationships and paramilitary maneuvering. Debut author Bisseux writes with a gritty, raw-edged realism that will keep readers turning pages for the next surprising plot twist. These twists continue up until the conclusion, but Bisseux avoids the trap of sacrificing depth for action. The narrative effectively portrays the ravages of the ethnic conflict, sometimes in scenes that are almost painfully graphic. The human costs of both war-making and peace-building are evocatively conveyed. The setting is intimately linked to the plot, and Bisseux seems to capture cultural nuances well. In contrast, the dialogue is somewhat wooden and disappointing; many of the characters speak with the same voice and use the same expressions. Though some of the last-minute rescues and coincidental happenings are unrealistic, the suspension of disbelief required is no more than is typical for this genre. Repeated spelling errors ("were" is often "where," for example) distract a bit but are forgivable in a book of this quality. Alternately brutal and touching, a triumphant novel not to be missed.


Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456842536

Page Count: 257

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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