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SHADOW OVER BABYLON

Just the ticket for everybody still smarting from our ineffectual Gulf War victory: a Day of the Jackal-esque fantasy recounting an elaborate postwar plot to assassinate Saddam. A discreetly indirect overture from a government minister leads to security expert Ed Howard, a Special Boat Service veteran, who, agreeing to take on the job for a $10 million payoff, recruits a crack British team, from volatile Mideast expert Johnny Bourne to Scottish sniper Danny MacDonald. Bolstered by enviable inside information, meticulous planning, periodic bouts of restorative sex with brave, pliant women, and a list of supplies—including outsized stores of frozen peas, margarine, and an inflatable raft—Howard and Co. follow an ingenious blueprint to Saddam's birthday celebration in his hometown of Tikrit and dig in for the one shot they'll be allowed. Even as they're lining up the target in their crosshairs, though, trouble has already struck. John Kearwin, an eager beaver reconnaissance analyst in D.C., has picked up their trail via satellite recon and—courtesy of some Clancy-esque technological wizardry—traced them back to Britain and forward to Tikrit. After an initial abortive attempt to wipe out the assassins—because only Saddam can hold together the strong Iraq the US needs to balance Iranian power in the Mideast—the top dogs in Britain and America (a bunch of fictional bozos named George Bush, John Major, Brent Scowcroft, John Kelly, Robert Gates et al.) trade accusations and try to keep a step ahead of the plotters even as Kearwin and other underlings sentimentally cheer them on. British first-novelist Mason still has a few tricks up his decorated sleeve; you'll love the details of exactly what happens to Saddam, and the reaction to assassination rumors back in Baghdad, even if you guess the surprise saved for the very end. A good time is promised to everyone in the novel's huge, exasperated target audience. (Film rights to United Artists)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93709-9

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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