STOLEN THUNDER

A Cornish gentlewoman, her widowed, American father-in-law, a terminally ill cancer patient, a depressed fellow, and a boor steal a used B52 from a parking lot in Arizona—and take it to Libya to exercise a little personal diplomacy. Well, apparently it's possible, there being goodness knows how many bombers lying about unused what with a downsized American Air Force and a reasonable expectation that you can leave your keys in a plane and expect it to be there when you get back. But plane thieves Mrs. Tamasin Masterson and her late husband's retired, USAF, Vietnam-hero father, Bartholomew ``Bat'' Masterson, are no mindless joyriders. They've recruited a crew to fly with them to the Sahara to bomb to kingdom come international terrorist Tariq Talal and his gang of international terrorist scum as punishment for the murder of Captain Edward Masterson. This high-minded crew are well over the Pacific before anyone back at the Air Force base realizes that the plane is not headed for Australia, where it's supposed to be going or that it has, in fact, disappeared. It's up to clever intelligence officer Rebecca ``Becks'' Laird to figure out where the plane actually is and why anyone would want to steal it. She gets no help from her commanding officer, who is shorter than she is and hates her, or from the CIA—who could use their satellites to help but, for reasons not revealed until much too late, won't. Meanwhile, in the Libyan desert training camp targeted for destruction, budding terrorist Adem Elhaggi discovers the clay feet of the warrior he has idolized, and in England, Mrs. Masterson's noble brother, himself a fighter pilot of considerable distinction, prepares to rescue his sister from the disaster she must surely face. The author—a pseudonymous Brit who puts mountains in Minnesota and ``ain't'' in the mouth of almost every American— gives himself far too many pages to reach an outcome that will surprise no one.

Pub Date: May 17, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-09395-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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