Powerful people want to kill a news story—and then kill the reporter who’s tracking it. The first noteworthy item about the body roasting in the Mojave Desert was that it seemed to have fallen out of the sky. No vehicle in sight, no tire tracks or other sign of transport, no town nearer than 20 miles. Next, there’s the matter of how the body was identified—by a set of dog tags belonging to an American soldier lost in the Vietnam War. Reporter Johnny Rose finds his well worn nose for news beginning to twitch. But before he can start serious digging, stop signals emanate from some rather surprising sources—his editor, for instance. And then a Vietnamese friend of Johnny’s is murdered halfway into the story of what’s been scaring him. Johnny says only that he’s seen something that reason tells him is impossible. How could Captain Kyle Loveless be on the streets of L.A. yesterday when he was killed in Laos 30 years ago? Now Johnny’s twitching is uncontrollable. Before he can yell stop the presses, however, he himself has become a potential murder victim. It’s clear someone’s trying to frame him, but why? And is he really supposed to believe POWs have been wending their way home after all these years? If so, what’s the point of keeping that a secret? Does the answer connect to the owner of a certain newspaper (Johnny’s) and that owner’s vaunting ambition to be governor? In time-honored thriller fashion, Johnny realizes he must solve the riddles alone or face severe consequences. Shot at, beaten up, and considerably the worse for wear, he hangs in to the bittersweet end. Much livelier than Freadhoff’s debut (Codename: Cipher, 1991). Add a shade more nuance to the characters, a bit more dash to the writing, and it could have been a contender.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-019217-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?