An impressive, enterprising effort by an author with verve and imagination to spare.



A sci-fi thriller involving a planet-killing comet, interstellar joy rides, and two heroic citizens fighting to save the planet.

Claire McBeth, a young Manhattan journalist covering science and technology for the New York Sentinel newspaper, excitedly accepts an assignment to report on the revolutionary, swiftly developing space-tourism industry. First, she interviews Texas multibillionaire Kayode Seok, the Korean–African-American creator of KS Space Tourism, who’s dealt with racial prejudice throughout his life. She also gets a scoop on a suborbital excursion project from former Air Force Capt. Herc Ramond, a senior pilot for Seok’s company. Although Claire is instantly attracted to the handsome airman, both are distracted by developments many miles above them involving the International Space Station. Soon afterward, Ramond must rush off to tend to his incapacitated friend Richard Halpren, a jet engine mechanic in the space-tourism industry; he’s in the hospital after surviving a suspicious gas explosion in his home. Meanwhile, FBI agent Quinten Gnash is using lethal means to contain reports of apparent comet sightings. McBeth and Ramond soon stumble on a conspiracy to cover up the truth behind an object hurtling toward Earth. Ohio-based novelist and playwright Roland’s rousing debut novel combines futuristic space technology with a bevy of engaging characters. Some of the subplots are fleeting, but they all directly tie into the main narrative to form a cohesive tapestry of suspense, intrigue, and cosmic thrills. Although the action is a bit frenetic in places, the story is continuously and firmly anchored by strong characterization and an intriguing, visionary premise. McBeth and Ramond are particularly inspired and compelling protagonists who provide just the right amount of spirited toughness to carry things through to the rousing (and open-ended) conclusion.

An impressive, enterprising effort by an author with verve and imagination to spare.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9978843-1-9

Page Count: 428

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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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.


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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