Part mystery, part religious debate, this old-fashioned, well-written novel is wholly entertaining.

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PEACEKEEPER

An English detective investigates a homicide that has supernatural implications and leads to a mysterious organization and the ultimate battle between good and evil.

In Exeter, England, DI Cecilia Cavaliere investigates the death of John Cox, a young teacher. She quickly finds that his murder is connected to the mysterious Academy for Philosophical Studies, whose chairman is secretly in league with the devil. At the same time, at nearby R.A.F. Harlsden, Capt. Lancelot Scott, of the 92nd Missile Wing of the U.S.A.F., is unaware that the deadly Peacekeeper nuclear missiles under his command are part of the chairman’s plot to jump-start World War III. When her investigation leans toward the supernatural, Cecilia feels out of her depth, but fortunately, she receives help from religious scholar and Anglican priest Michael Aarons, a friend of her father’s, and Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, a mysterious Jesuit. In the end, it comes down to the ultimate confrontation between good and evil, as Cavaliere and Aarons face off against the chairman and a satanic consultant from the Infernal City. In this sequel to the author’s Siding Star (2012), it’s fairly obvious how things will turn out, but since the characters are created with such intelligence, readers will nonetheless want to stick around to find out what fate has in store for them. A hint of romance between Cavaliere and Aarons provides additional interest in the story’s outcome. The author, an Anglican priest, writes authoritatively when it comes to religion, though he also entertains with details about how homicide investigations are run and how a missile installation works. He is, however, at his most eloquent when describing the nature of spirituality: “The universe is a dance….And we were created to be part of it,” says the mysterious Spee. At moments like this, this novel is much more than the sum of its parts.

Part mystery, part religious debate, this old-fashioned, well-written novel is wholly entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0985391133

Page Count: 328

Publisher: The Diamond Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2014

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

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.

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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