From Mikulski, US senator from Maryland (Democrat), and Oates (Making Peace, 1991), a feeble attempt at a Washington suspense novel that reads like a hand-me-down episode of Murder, She Wrote. Digression and useless detail are the maladies of most bad thrillers, and this has both in spades. Eleanor ``Norie'' Gorzack is picked by the governor of Pennsylvania to replace a suddenly deceased US senator. A rank amateur in the ways of the the arcane and patrician (read: rich, white, male) Senate, Gorzack finds herself immediately in hot water. A Vietnam MIA expert who lost her husband in the war, Gorzack, with a tyro's aplomb, lobbies to be selected for the MIA subcommittee only to run afoul of the committee chairman, a velvety southerner. Meanwhile, a Vietnam vet is murdered, dying in her arms and clutching a clipping of an MIA article; the spectacle draws further unwanted attention from a lanky Capitol Hill cop, Lt. Thomas Carver. When one of Gorzack's young staffers is murdered, Carver begins to suspect that someone interested in covering up MIA issues is trying to send Gorzack a brutal message. The senator, however, never says die; working her way through a maze of conflicting Washington loyalties, she conducts her own shadow investigation. Fund- raisers, lobbyists, evangelists, MIA activists, and her colleagues all vie for Gorzack's attention—and supply her with clues. A trip to Vietnam as part of a Congressional MIA delegation produces epiphanies, but Gorzack remains dogged in her pursuit of the killer. A series of threats, anonymous letters, and poisoned gifts leads to an education in the depths of American political corruption. Enough juicy insider dish to keep things peripherally lively, but the book's basics- plot, character, and pacing—leave much to be desired. Ultimately, everything rides on the plucky Gorzack, and the senator's shoulders aren't wide enough for the load.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-94214-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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