Despite her best efforts, Kane doesn’t give her smart, sorely beset heroine anything like the personal stake in this case...

SEEDS OF DOUBT

A sophomore case for dyslexic Denver attorney Jackie Flowers finds her equally outraged and baffled but less personally engaged.

Rachel Boyd has just finished doing 30 years for killing Freddie Gant in Vivian, Colorado, when he was 4 and she was only 12. No sooner is she released and gone to stay with her banker brother Christopher in Denver than another child disappears: Chris’s gardener’s son Benjamin Sparks, 6, who promptly turns up as dead as little Freddie. Things look so bad for Rachel, an ex-con who showed no remorse for her earlier crime or even admitted she’d done it, that Chris insists Jackie defend her and shoves a pot of money at her to get her interest. And she’ll need all the incentive she can get because everyone around her, from her investigator to her next-door neighbors to her ex-lover, attorney Dennis Ross, is agog that she’s agreed to take Rachel in as a houseguest when she’s released on her own recognizance because they all assume Rachel’s guilty. And why shouldn’t they? The postmortem exam shows that Ben was wounded in a pattern eerily similar to Freddie, presumably with a weapon that hasn’t been found for 30 years. Both Lee Simms, the tabloid journalist who rode the earlier case to brief glory, and Trina Maune, Rachel’s grade-school cohort and confidante, who make the trip from Vivian to Denver, and from past to present, ostensibly to help Jackie defend Rachel turn out to have agendas of their own. And of course she has to fight tooth and nail for every inch of pretrial courtroom turf.

Despite her best efforts, Kane doesn’t give her smart, sorely beset heroine anything like the personal stake in this case that she had in her debut (Extreme Indifference, 2003). Instead, Jackie seems intent on building a client base consisting entirely of the most despised people in Colorado.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-4557-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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