Well up to Poyer’s excellent standards. No bluster, no dazzle, just real naval engagements that we may well see before long.

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KOREA STRAIT

American observers sail into the thick of a vicious naval confrontation between the two Koreas.

Naval expert Poyer (The Threat, 2006, etc.) has already sent his hero Dan Lenson through nine realistic and frightening naval crises. They are always plausible situations, often in remote spots that are overshadowed by whatever big trouble the United States is in at the moment. This time the Medal of Honor–winner has been reassigned from his White House post to what appears to be lousy duty in the Western Pacific. Denied the command post he richly deserves, Commander Lenson is part of a team running joint U.S. and Korean Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Straight shooter that he is, Lenson throws himself totally into the job, coming quickly to respect the seamanship and dedication of the South Korean naval officers. Within a short time, he learns that the threat from North Korea is no joke. The weird totalitarians under their Dear Leader have been sending suicidal submarine crews to make mischief in southern waters even as the United States is secretly preparing to drastically reduce its forces in the area. On a break in Seoul, he participates in one of the spooky evacuation drills the Republic finds it necessary to run regularly to be ready for what they believe is an inevitable invasion from the North. Back at sea he rides out a typhoon and helps the Korean Commodore cope with the withdrawal of the Australian and American ships from the exercise. He has his own problem coping with the chain-smoking Koreans and the constipating shipboard diet. Then the ASW exercise becomes the real thing. Four of Kim Jong-Il’s subs and a second typhoon move into the area with murderous intent, and atomic radiation has been detected.

Well up to Poyer’s excellent standards. No bluster, no dazzle, just real naval engagements that we may well see before long.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36049-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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