PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a thriller for the global age, with characters tangled in cross-border conflicts and international intrigues ... The action is brisk, the dialogue snappy. Once the pair arrive in Mexico City, the story crackles, feeling nicely plugged in to the overheated power grid of an interconnected world ... Then Take No Names detours into an entirely different novel, shifting abruptly toward global skulduggery, corporate malfeasance, secretive paramilitary units and spectacular explosions — something more akin to “The Bourne Identity” than The Maltese Falcon. Maybe this is Nieh’s moment to rip away the facade and reveal the world’s corrupt inner workings. But as a consequence, the novel becomes untethered from the engaging, human-scale story that’s grounded it so far. Some readers may enjoy this bait and switch, while others, like me, might feel wistful for the more modest road-trip novel they’ve been enjoying so far ... Still, by the end Nieh has laid out a handy road map for global noir in the modern world: characters torn between nations, exploiting a system that is itself inherently exploitative, getting swept up in international currents that they barely comprehend. If one lesson of classic noir was that the world isn’t always as it appears to be, Nieh’s novel embraces a different viewpoint: The world is crazier than you know and maybe even slightly crazier than you’d hoped.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewCosby’s prose is vibrant and inventive, his action exuberant and relentless ... As with Blacktop Wasteland, you may come for the setup, but you’ll stay for the storytelling. Cosby writes in a spirit of generous abundance and gleeful abandon and, unlike a lot of noir writers, he doesn’t shy from operatic emotion...Cosby himself is fearless in concocting colorful similes in the grand tradition of go-for-baroque pulp ... Over the top, sure, but there’s no way your mind will not recall this image the next time you’re at a wine bar or walking the boardwalk in Ocean City ... More important, the book moves. It thrums. Razorblade Tears practically taunts you every time you try to put it down ... The ride isn’t seamless. When you’re as exuberant with language as Cosby is, not every turn of phrase is going to land, though his hit rate is impressively high. And the novel’s brazenly cinematic finale — you might even call it Bruckheimeresque — snaps together with a tidy efficiency that belies the emotional messiness of the preceding tale ... Cosby excels when presenting the struggles of flawed characters as they wrestle with moral failings and haunting regrets ... Isiah and Derek, though, never come into focus as fully imagined people, which is especially notable given how successful Cosby is at breathing life into everyone else. The novel’s side trips into the sons’ milieu — including a gay bar called Garland’s, named for Judy — are the least sure-footed scenes in the book ... by the novel’s end, despite the occasional bumps, I bet you’ll be eager for more. This is how crime writers establish a following: by priming readers to get excited about whatever’s coming next. If that’s the true measure of making a name for yourself, then Cosby’s already there.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt wastes no time making its intentions known. The story opens on a kaleidoscopic set piece worthy of a James Bond movie as directed by Robert Altman ... This opening gambit is exciting, if slightly worrisome. Whom are we meant to invest in here? Will there be characters for us to care about? Don’t worry. They’re on their way ... In lesser thrillers, this necessary erection of plot scaffolding can be tedious, the impatient reader skimming ahead while waiting for the bullets to start flying. But character back story, and the entanglements it reveals, seem to be where Parish’s true interests lie ... His other interest is language—and Love and Theft is expertly and (a rarer accomplishment) artfully written ... a precision-cut sentence can quicken the reader’s pulse as reliably as a surprise twist or a character’s excruciating dilemma. When a novel delivers all of the above— as Love and Theft ultimately does, its racecar engine revving to a smooth and satisfying purr—it can feel to the reader like a kind of miracle. In a word: thrilling.
Juli Zeh Trans by. John Cullen
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIf you want to write a dystopian novel in these quasi-dystopian times, you need to go dark. Really dark. And the premise of Juli Zeh’s bracing, furious novel, Empty Hearts, is so dark that I laughed out loud when I read it on the book’s back cover ... bracing, furious ... has the veneer of a thriller but it’s more accurate to call it a chiller: chilling in the accuracy of its satire and chilling in its diagnosis of our modern malaise. The novel may appear at first glance to be a facile \'Wake up, yuppies!\' parable, but it guides us with assurance toward thornier terrain.
RaveVultureJonathan Lethem has not necessarily written the first great novel of the Trump era, but he’s arguably written the first great novel about the Trump era, disguised as a rollicking detective story ... The Feral Detective is the rare novel that feels like it’s being typed onto the page as fast as you can read it ... Reading fiction since 2016 has felt, for the most part, like an exercise in escapism. But The Feral Detective emphatically reasserts the notion that a novel can grapple with a cultural moment, while also showcasing Lethem’s usual demolition derby of literary and genre influences ... The only downside of finishing the novel...is that you’re robbed of what has turned out to be a fiendishly effective literary salve—a form of non-escapist escape.