Ninth installment in the Dirk Pitt ocean-bottom salvage saga (Raise the Titanic, Cyclops, Treasure), with a dramatic upgrading in the writing. This time out, Cussler keeps a tight plot under a favoring wind and does not fill out his 416 pages with a surplus of subplots—though, to be sure, the story builds on Saturday-matinee cliffhangers and has the usual aircraft blueprints, as well as the Cussler clangor of underwater hardware, for bolting down fantasy. (A character barely picks up a telephone without our getting its specs, including holographics—we're into 1993—and distant speakers facing each other in 3-D.) The story: In 1945, a third plane carrying an atomic bomb to Japan is shot down and sinks off a Japanese island. The waterproof bomb lies down there for 50 years. In 1993, Dirk Pitt mines the sea-bottom with a colossal submersible tractor near the lost plane when a huge Japanese automobile-carrying cargo ship miles above him blows up, destroying two other ships nearby. It seems that a secret Japanese crime cartel, set on raising Japan to world trade dominance starting with a takeover of the US, has been making A-bombs. Lacking missiles, the cartel smuggles its small A-bombs in Japanese automobiles into various US cities and is now ready to blackmail the President for their big takeover. The cartel works out of Dragon Center, the island near where the US A-bomb sank. Dirk Pitt, now drawn into a US secret agency for locating the Japanese bombs (the cartel explodes one bomb in Wyoming for demonstration purposes), is given a new submersible tractor, since his last was destroyed in the accidental A-bomb explosion of the automobile cargo ship, and is sent down to blow up the US bomb in the sunken bomber, thus causing an earthquake and tsunami that will wipe out Dragon Center. Naturally, blowing up an A-bomb poses some threat to Dirk's life—but he does it, and his submersible sinks under a tremendous mudslide into a huge trench. Next we are reading deathproof Dirk's obit. Can he really be. . .? More surpassingly improbable than Indiana Jones, but much fun, crisply told, with exciting special effects. By now, Cussler has spent nearly 5,000 pages mucking around in oceanic blackness. Obsessive?

Pub Date: June 4, 1990

ISBN: 1416537805

Page Count: 609

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1990

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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