THE LAST PROFESSIONAL

An informative and adventurous story of a wayward journey into another world.

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A Silicon Valley programmer leaves his job to ride the rails with an elderly man in Davis’ novel.

At 26, Lynden Hoover has a fine career at Data Dynamics, a hot San Francisco Bay Area tech company. However, he starts to feel that his success is like a prison, and it’s one that he wants to escape: “All programmers were a little crazy up front,” he notes, “and all the good ones knew when to bail.” In sixth grade, he’d jumped on a freight train to search for his absent father, and he wants to roam free once again. It’s now the 1980s, and open boxcars abound, so Lynden hops on one of them and heads east. Along the way, he meets The Duke, an old-fashioned tramp who carries with him the language and customs of the past: “You fight like a punch-drunk Palooka,” he tells Lynden after one squabble. The Duke turns out to have a wealth of information about the locations of “hobo” camps, and he has dirt regarding dangerous characters. Of particular concern is Short Arm, a villainous scoundrel that The Duke claims will kill him on sight. Lynden, now dubbed “Frisco,” and The Duke roll past Reno, the Great Salt Lake, and Grand Junction, and The Duke says that Short Arm is headed to Pennsylvania. But Lynden has a secret that’s tormenting him—one that will bring him even deeper into a dangerous, transient world. Over the course of this novel, Davis presents readers with an adventure that also works well as a tribute to the past, effectively using the perspective of a young character to capture what feels like the last glimpse of a disappearing culture. Lynden’s interest in riding the rails isn’t merely a passing fancy, and the history that connects The Duke and Lynden brings up issues as varied as wanderlust, economics, and sexuality. The characters come across as convincing, real people, and the schemes that they hatch are generally fun. Although the first half of the novel suffers from a general talkiness and aimlessness, the second half establishes a much more clearly defined narrative that will engage readers.

An informative and adventurous story of a wayward journey into another world.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-951122-25-6

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Artemesia Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

THE ATLAS MANEUVER

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Cotton Malone, who just can’t stay retired from international intrigue, joins the mad dance of competitors for a fortune in bitcoin.

So many people have forgotten about the horde of gold the retreating Japanese hid on Luzon Island in the Philippines that it’s not at all clear who has legal title to it. That’s perfect for Robert Citrone, the retired CIA overseer of the Black Eagle Trust, which has used the gold to fund covert operations around the world. Just as Derrick Koger, the European station chief for the CIA, is pulling Malone away from his Copenhagen bookstore to help him investigate possible misdeeds swirling around Luxembourg’s Bank of St. George and its ruthless chief operating officer, Catherine Gledhill, other interested parties turn up in often surprising connections. Freelance assassin Kyra Lhota executes Armenian oligarch Samvel Yerevan and moves on to her next target. Malone’s sometime lover Cassiopeia Vitt is snatched by high-ranking Japanese security chief Aiko Ejima. His former lover Suzy Baldwin resurfaces as Kelly Austin, BSG’s director of special technology, who’s concealing secrets from Malone and the rest of the world. They’re all on the trail of a fabulous cache of bitcoin that in the absence of any legal records of ownership will belong, like the Luzon gold, to anyone who can track it down and grab it. The grandly scaled complications that follow feature countless broken alliances and the deaths of a fearsome number of nonfranchise characters. An extended author’s note explains what’s historically accurate (quite a bit, as it turns out) and what’s fabricated (quite a bit more).

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9781538721032

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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