CIRCLE WILLIAM

Libya plots a chemical weapons attack in this novice entry in the Tom Clancy Stakes. Target: the US. And possibly Qaddafi has Israel’s Knesset in mind as a secondary target. So where has he hidden his bombs? And when does he plan to explode them? No one knows. Clearly, the Colonel thinks he’s ahead of the game, but he hasn’t reckoned on the Schmidt brothers, who turn out to be very bad medicine for him indeed. Bill Schmidt is captain of an American destroyer, Jim Schmidt press secretary to the President. There are those who look askance at the two, regarding them as loose cannons, and it’s true they’ve been known to stray from standard operating procedure. Bill, for instance, is much more relaxed with his crew than strict, by-the-book Navy formalists find reassuring. Jim, meanwhile, is too quick with a quip, or so some think. And people remember that once in public he referred to a Cabinet member as a windbag and wasn’t as dismayed by the gaffe as he should have been. But they do get things done, those Schmidts. When high-command counterplotting requires that a Libyan plane be shot down —accidentally,— Jim suggests Bill for the job. Bull’s-eye! One Libyan aircraft dead in the water. When Bill, brilliantly, deduces the whereabouts of the deployed weaponry, it’s Jim he calls. Result: the President is spirited out of harm’s way and the stash brought to light in the nick of time. Thwarted by Schmidt grit and resourcefulness, Libya pays a heavy price for vaulting ambition, while Bill gets the girl. Newcomer Harlow is a retired Navy captain, a former Assistant White House Press Secretary to George Bush, and currently the Director of Public Affairs for the CIA. But he isn’t (yet) much of a novelist. Though some of his characters are engaging and the Beltway stuff interesting, what should be gripping never is.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-85039-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

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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