A short but often appealing thriller.



In Altman's debut novel, an ordinary doctor fights the Russian mob in Paris in order to save his kidnapped lover.

Forty-seven-year-old American urologist Barry Halpern has begun a new stage in his life. After ending his marriage to his cheating wife, he starts playing the field. In November 1984, a trip to a urologic meeting in Paris brings him to the bar of the InterContinental Hotel, where he meets French widow Monique Girard. He learns that her husband was employed by the Renseignements Généraux, the French equivalent of the CIA. Although Monique speaks little English, the instant, mutual attraction between her and Barry needs no translation. Later, he meets 16-year-old Luisa, Monique's daughter. After several more trips to see Monique in France, Barry's ready to make plans for her and Luisa to join him in New Jersey. But when he goes to Paris, he finds that Monique and Luisa have disappeared. He returns to the United States only to learn from RG officer Pierre Manteau that Luisa is dead and Monique has been kidnapped by the Russian mob who killed her husband. Barry decides that the only way he can help Monique is by going to Paris to investigate her disappearance himself. He quickly receives threats telling him to go home and is even stabbed in a hotel lobby. After he illegally obtains a gun, he joins Pierre, other RG officers and gendarmes to try to find Monique and take the mob down. Altman effectively shows how Barry's machismo and surgeon's quick reflexes come in handy when he's caught in gunfights. Barry is a likable character although he comes off as a bit crude at times ("My lust for sex had been beaten out of me"). The story is told from Barry's first-person point of view, but it might have benefited from other perspectives, such as Monique's as she withstands her captor's cruel treatment. Overall, Altman offers a propulsive, engaging narrative, particularly during Barry's search for Monique. Eventually, Barry exacts brutal retaliation as only an urologist would in a strange, gruesome twist.

A short but often appealing thriller.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491718001

Page Count: 196

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2014

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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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