A broad, striking attempt to interweave money and politics.

POINTS ON A LINE

Forty years of political and financial suspicion and frustration kneaded into a semifictional account of government machinations, power brokering, partisan jousting and, always in the foreground, a complex economic debate.

Divided into four parts—beginning with the ominous “Seeds of the Beast” and ending with a portentous reference to “Voices of Babel”—Gentsch’s debut is told largely from Jude Anders’ perspective. First, he’s a civically engaged college student organizing Vietnam War protests, then an economic analyst at the IMF and the Federal Reserve, and eventually, he’s an advisor in the fictional present-day American president’s inner circle. In a socially and politically liberal voice, the book directly adheres to documented history through the Clinton presidency, then refers nondescriptly to a Republican in the White House for eight years, and finally presents a thinly fictionalized version of the last four years under a Democratic president named Mitchell Taylor, a single-term Native American senator from Colorado. As bright and capable as Jude appears to be, his career trajectory has a manufactured hue to it; while avoiding the draft in seminary school in Toronto, he meets Anton Tomasin, an articulate if somewhat cagey political science major around whom Jude is instinctively cautious because Anton has been raised by his adoptive parents in material comfort with privileged access to global movers and shakers. In the novel, a powerful, conspiratorial network influences men, markets and governments, all the while shadowing Jude’s progress. This conglomerate surreptitiously lurks behind the American curtain; along with the masses of uninformed U.S. citizenry and adherents to the Chicago School of Economics, they form a body of antagonists. In flashbacks and recollections, readers relive Jude’s reactions to and involvement in a string of significant historical events, including the violence at Kent State in 1970, the oil crisis of ’73, U.S. and international interference in Central and South American regimes, the attacks and aftermath of 9/11, and the contemporary debt crisis in Greece. Despite its lumbering pace, the simple, colloquial prose progresses with easy-to-swallow biographical turns—cute college girls; reluctant, ultimately joyful fatherhood; bitter divorce. The constant color of economic crisis and espionage, however, sometimes dizzily careens toward implausibility. Jude’s populism and essentially Keynesian philosophy would have been better served had Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman followers in the novel had an equal champion; instead, opposing forces tend to be uninformed, fatalistic or sinister. For the most part, though, Gentsch maintains an admirably nonpartisan course to inform and awaken readers to the significance of economic ideas and policies.

A broad, striking attempt to interweave money and politics.

Pub Date: May 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475921793

Page Count: 516

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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