A mostly impressive tale about criminals that will hold readers hostage.


A literary novel tells the story of a reporter’s investigation into a mysterious commune on a California mountain.

Carol, a freelance magazine journalist, comes to San Tomas looking for the missing Donna Fairchild: “Glamor girl attorney, runs with the Panthers, gets wrapped up in a murder, then vanishes for the past three years. Just because she’s not on the cover of TIME anymore, don’t believe for a moment she’s yesterday’s news.” She suspects that Donna has fallen in with Josh Clements, a controversial prison reformer who runs Moetown, a nearby mountain campground populated with ex-convicts. Josh also happens to be the cops’ first stop in every local rape case and is known to disappear every six months. Carol suspects that Josh also has something to do with the unsolved murder of a Chicano political agitator. Josh refuses to speak with her, and while his close-knit community of friends and associates—including a disabled bartender, a disgraced professor, a charming liar, and a silent murderer—answers some of her questions, who knows if she can trust what this group has to say. Carol finally manages to track down Donna and wear Josh down, but when the reformer’s brother, Paul, appears—and as the rapes continue—the story proves more complex than the journalist ever expected. Hogan’s (The Ultimate Start-Up Guide, 2017) prose is gritty and observant, particularly his descriptions of the various outlaws who populate his pages: “He’s smooth,” one character says of another. “Not slick-smooth, just smooth. Trouble is, everyone up here is pretty rough.” The novel has a bit of a shaggy-dog quality—old mysteries are answered and new ones emerge—but the diverse players are intriguing enough to pull readers through the digressions and MacGuffins. A bit of trimming would have improved the pacing, and the ending feels a bit manufactured. But its backwoods 1970s setting—Carol jokes in the first sentence that “it’s like I’m sitting with the cast of Deliverance”—and its exploration of misdeeds, trauma, and rehabilitation make for a reading experience that feels both heightened and familiar.

A mostly impressive tale about criminals that will hold readers hostage.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7024-6

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

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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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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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