Why can’t all thrillers be this satisfying?


Swift’s bracing debut thriller envisions a New York where career-minded parents allow fascist institutions to raise their children.

It’s the near future, and the president is a smiling subordinate to the corporations that rule America; individuals rely more on technology than each other; and public schools have been abolished. Richard Carson and his wife, Carol, are Manhattan lawyers. While she’s passionate about law, Richard’s dream is to become a novelist. They’ve sent their young son, Christopher, to the Newman Home, a technologically savvy school, where he’s raised and educated full time. One day, to Carol’s chagrin, Richard decides to take the summer off from his firm and write. He also suggests they bring Christopher home on a summer sabbatical from Newman so they can bond with him. Carol strongly disagrees, arguing that the boy will fall behind in his intensive curriculum. Nevertheless, they bring Christopher home. Once there, however, their son is nervous and robotic, showing no personality. Then, while stroking the boy’s head before bed one night, Richard finds an incision scar behind his ear. Is the sinister mark related to Christopher’s malaise and Newman’s reluctance to give him up? This irresistible premise taps into modern paranoia about corporate control and social disengagement. Swift’s propulsive tale arrives in bite-sized chapters. Truly riveting, though, is Swift’s dialogue; when a Newman representative tells Richard his son can’t leave a class, she says, “I’m sorry, but we have the other residents to think of.” He replies, “And I only have one to think of.” Commentary on actual public policies is equally searing: “They were trying to create a new profit center. No child left behind? All the kids were left behind.” Occasionally, Swift projects his sensibilities as a writer through Richard, which can feel intrusive—“Finally, he knew he had a story to tell rather than a message to send”—a minor complaint about an incredibly successful work.

Why can’t all thrillers be this satisfying?

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9899794-0-5

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Fifth East Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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