A master of unholy terror, Easterman (The Judas Testament, 1994, etc.) makes effective use of a fire-obsessed name-brand villain in a vast conspiracy thriller whose good guys are as vicious as their abominable adversaries. Dublin is hosting a secret conference of Muslim clerics preparing to bargain with European and US diplomats, and Ireland's prime minister puts Declan Carberry, one of Eire's top cops, in charge of the security detail. While Declan would rather be pursuing the killer of his only daughter (who was caught in crossfire of what appeared to be a reprisal raid by Ulster nationalists), he perks up considerably upon learning that Amina Bustani, a long-lost love from Lebanon, is also minding the ecclesiastics. Before deliberations can begin, however, a mysterious commando unit kidnaps the delegates to the preliminary parley. When the abductors make no immediate demands, it dawns on the authorities that they may be embroiled in something other than an Arab turf war. Declan soon determines that they are, but he's barred from the hunt because higher-ups—in league with Britain's MI5 and the CIA—are using the captives to ransom UK/US intelligence agents held hostage throughout the Middle East. As it happens, their chosen instrument, a red-neck messiah thought to have perished in Waco, Texas, has his own agenda, which he pursues from an island stronghold offshore from County Kerry. Hellbent on rescuing Amina (who was taken prisoner with her charges), Declan, with an assist from a lissome IRA lassie and a hit man sent to Ireland by Hizbollah, finally tracks down the fanatic fundamentalist before he blows his rocky redoubt and all on it to kingdom come. Utterly seductive twaddle that pits semi-complex protagonists against one another in dubious battles rooted in rule-or-ruin religious and secular hatreds.

Pub Date: May 24, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-017742-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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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

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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

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