HONOR AMONG THIEVES

It's Amateur Night on the international intrigue stage, as perennial bestseller Archer (As the Crow Flies, etc.) shows Saddam Hussein's henchmen grooming an actor to take the place of the President so that they can—push the button that starts WW III? Plant a bomb that will destroy both chambers of Congress? No, steal the Declaration of Independence! Actually, the actor, one Lloyd Adams, is much less important than his support staff: Tony Cavalli, the unscrupulous, well-connected lawyer whose off-the-books ``Skills'' department takes on the assignment of switching the Declaration for a copy that will remain in the Archives until Saddam publicly burns the original on July 4, bringing Bill Clinton to his knees; T. Hamilton McKenzie, the Nobelist in plastic surgery (!) whose daughter is kidnapped to encourage him to rearrange Adams's face; William O'Reilly (``Dollar Bill''), nonpareil forger who copies the Declaration exactly and throws in a few near- copies for good measure; Johnny Sciasatore, distinguished director whose fake movie motorcade of the President helps get the imposter into the Archives; and a contract killer in Laura Ashley dresses who goes around mopping up the rest of the staff. The Skills crew gets the goods, of course, and then the ``Mission: Impossible'' scenario is reversed, as Scott Bradley, a Yale Law prof and CIA hanger-on, joins rookie Mossad agent Hannah Kopec (who already thinks she's killed Scott when his earlier cover as Mossad contact ``Simon Rosenthal'' was blown: don't ask) and a giant, custom-made safe named Madame Bertha to sneak the Declaration back out of Baghdad. With all those copies and all those agents plotting at cross-purposes, you just know there are going to be multiple switches and surprises, but instead of generating suspense, they just add to the general air of genial preposterousness. Undeniably entertaining, if you can get into the spirit of farcical and inconsequential melodrama. Maps of the Washington motorcade route and the Mideast—just in case you have any questions. (First printing of 500,000)

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-017945-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1993

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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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Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her...

DISTANT SHORES

Another middle-aged mom in a muddle.

After years of false starts and big hopes, Elizabeth’s ruggedly handsome husband Jack, a former football star, just landed a spot as a sportscaster on national news. He still loves her, even though much younger women are giving him come-hither looks. Heck, he doesn’t want to betray the love of his life after she helped him kick drugs and stuck by him even when he was a struggling has-been. And won’t it seem hypocritical if he fools around with his sexy assistant while he does in-depth reporting on a rape case involving a famous basketball center? Well, he fools around anyway. Elizabeth, nicknamed Birdie, knows nothing of this, but she withdraws from Jack when her hard-drinking, salt-of-the-earth father has a stroke and dies. Now no one will call her “sugar beet” ever again. Time to return home to Tennessee and contend with Anita, the sort-of-evil stepmother so trashy she wears pink puffy slippers all day long. Naturally, it turns out that Anita actually has a heart of gold and knows a few things about Birdie’s dead mother that were hushed up for years. Mom was an artist, just like Birdie, and an old scandal comes to light as Anita unrolls a vibrant canvas that portrays her secret lover. Perhaps, Birdie muses, her mother died of heartbreak, never having followed her true love or developed her talent. Has she, too, compromised everything she holds dear? Hoping to find out, Birdie joins a support group that promises to reconnect confused women with their passion. She and Jack separate, prompting a how-dare-you fit from their grown daughters. Will Birdie fly her empty nest? Will she go back to college for a degree in art? Will her brooding watercolors ever sell?

Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her previous tales (Summer Island, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-45071-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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