320 DOWN

A financial sleuth sets her sights on a suspect who seems very guilty and very attractive in this twisty romantic mystery.

Dawn McCafferty wants a more exciting man and a less exciting job, so she dumps her clingy nebbish of a boyfriend and quits the FBI to take what she hopes will be a sedate gig as an investigator with a federal agency called the National Credit Union Association. When a San Diego credit union’s computer system misplaces $320 million, NCUA geeks start poring over millions of lines of code, but McCafferty’s intuition zeroes in on the likely thief: Tom Williams, a disgruntled employee who was accused of embezzlement 18 months before and sidetracked into a dead-end post as a debt collector. Tom insists he’s innocent, but he has a motive—revenge—and he’s a thorough-going rogue to boot: when Dawn accuses him, he replies by asking her out for dinner. Dating the prime suspect is frowned upon, but what the hell, Dawn figures; she likes overpowering men with her looks—she’s got martial arts chops and a nine millimeter for backup—and thinks she might worm a confession out of Tom after a few drinks. What follows is a tango of seduction and deception as Tom and Dawn fence, flirt and get under each other’s skin while her fuming superiors keep the couple under surveillance. Dawn’s certainty that he’s the perp never wavers, yet Tom eludes every snare set by the humiliated feds; the more she pursues him the more she is drawn to his resourcefulness, bad-boy charm and restless soul. O’Bryant shapes Dawn’s dilemma—what if she has to send her ideal man to prison?—into a zesty yarn, complete with snappy dialogue, colorful characters and an intricate plot whose many turns will keep readers guessing. Tom and Dawn are two strong, prickly but warm-hearted leads, and we can’t help hoping they’ll wind up hand-cuffed to each other. A nifty whodunit-cum-love story with a touch of screwball comedy.

 

Pub Date: March 19, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4500-4270-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2010

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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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