Written like a storyboard and riddled with coincidences.

PARADISE CITY

A Neapolitan policeman goes to war in New York with the American branch of his hometown crime family, in the latest from the Law & Order writer/producer (Street Boys, 2002, etc.).

When Giancarlo LoManto was 15, his father died in the Bronx at the hands of the Camorra, the tougher-than-the-Mafia criminal outfit born under the Bourbons in 18th-century Naples. The late Sig. LoManto had failed to pay the vig and, well, you know how it is. Giancarlo’s mamma, understandably bitter, took her son back to the old country, where he grew up to be a spectacularly successful cop with a mission: to rid the world of the Camorra. He was actually doing pretty well, picking off drug dealers right and left, ducking most of the bullets that came his way, until, just as he was getting ready for a well-deserved, long-deferred holiday on Capri, his sister turns up with bad news. Her daughter Paula, Giancarlo’s high-school age niece, has gone missing, kidnapped from the New York family she was visiting. Giancarlo knows instantly that the kidnapping is a ploy instigated by Don Pietro Rossi, capo of the New York branch of the Camorra and son of the man who offed Giancarlo’s poor late father. Giancarlo has been much too successful in his one-man war on the Rossis, and the handsome young Don is seriously pissed. Flying immediately to New York, Giancarlo is teamed by a high-level cop friend, beautiful up-and-coming second-generation detective Jennifer Fabini, with whom he begins the hunt for Paula that will lead inevitably to a face-off with Pete Rossi. The adventure will bring memories of old grudges, scenes of old evils, much outwitting of lower-level thugs, and a sweet relationship with a savvy homeless Latino lad. There will also be Important Revelations about the shared past of the two antagonists.

Written like a storyboard and riddled with coincidences.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-345-41097-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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