QUILLER MERIDIAN

A blown rendezvous and a dead British agent in Bucharest send truculent veteran Quiller (Quiller Solitaire, etc.) to Moscow to contact Vladimir Zymyanin, the Russian agent who'd set up the meeting, and to find out the secret that was so vital and so dangerous. Zymyanin agrees to a meeting on the Trans-Siberian Express, but before he can do more than mutter imprecations about a troika of ex- generals aboard the train, he's shot, and Quiller is detained for his murder as the generals helicopter off into the sunset. A suspicious explosion in the generals' former car, however, allows Quiller to escape to the frigid town of Novosibirsk and resume his search for them by shadowing Tanya Rusakova, a clerk who seemed familiar with one of them—and he's right at hand when Tanya fingers former General Gennadi Vichenko to a soldier who kills him. Wanting his remaining targets alive and talking, Quiller promptly takes Tanya under his wing, learns that she and her brother Vadim had sworn private vengeance against Vichenko—a member of Podpolia, the hard-line underground determined to seize control of the former Soviet Union— for executing their father, installs her in a safe house, and learns the next day that she's left the house and walked into a trap. The last of Quiller's rapidly shifting goals, then: to free Tanya from official clutches, flush out the Podpolia plotters, and spike their coup attempt—all before his director's cover is blown or the freelance terrorist who bombed the train can kill his last remaining leads. Tangled and a little murky, but considerably more energetic than any of Quiller's recent outings—the sort of case that suits this morose operator down to the ground.

Pub Date: April 24, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-11797-X

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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