North turns from hayseed legal intrigue (Criminal Seduction, 1993) to a push-those-buttons mystery that pits her young heroine against demons that seem to go back through her family tree practically to the dawn of time. Called away from an archeological dig in Guatemala by the news that her father is hospitalized in New York, forensic anthropologist Iris Lanier hasn't a clue why John Lanier ever bought a gun, left his California orchard, and ventured into Riverside Park in the dead of night wearing a wire, only to get shot in the face. As Iris stumbles to establish a routine with the grotesques in her father's apartment buildingethereal musician Isaac Brightman, law student Mitch Hanley, super Rich Andrettiand with Justine Kizmin, the no-nonsense detective on the case, and Nathan Kaliker, the enigmatic head of the foundation that sent her (and, it turns out, Det. Kizmin) to school, she's enmeshed in complications that seem to link five vastly different crimes: (1) the near-fatal assault on her father; (2) the disappearance years ago of her mother, long presumed dead; (3) a fatal terrorist bombing by a fringe group of 60's radicals; (4) the murder of a teenaged girl whose bones Iris reluctantly agrees to look at while she's waiting for her father to come out of his coma; and (5) the stabbing death of the Lady Moonsmoke, the wife of the Mayan Sun God, whose bones Iris was excavating in Guatemala. (Warning: at least one of these crimes turns out to have nothing to do with the others.) North (Criminal Seduction, 1993) pulls out all the stopsmultiplying threats to Iris, invoking wholesale conspiracies, etc.but the result is merely a lot of pulled-out stops, as Iris dashes from California to Atlantic City confronting figures from her family past who spew out secrets of dubious relevance before fading mercifully back into the woodwork. Sprawling, taxing (of time, patience, and belief), and finally exhausting, like a train that stops at every village between New York and Guatemala City. (First printing of 50,000; Literary Guild selection)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-93849-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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