DOG EAT DOG

A grim '90s noir caper by the celebrated ex-con author of Little Boy Blue (1981), etc. Troy Cameron is a savvy, good-looking sociopath whose career goal is to be an outlaw with a lifetime income. Diesel Cameron, a tight friend he made at reform school, has a wife, a son, and a job with the teamsters that doesn't involve anything more serious than breaking legs and torching the occasional truck. Mad Dog McCain, the faithful companion who once got himself tossed into the hole to save Troy's parole, solves tough problems by killing the people who pose them. When Troy gets sprung from San Quentin, the three of them—their loyalties overriding but not mitigating their wary distrust of each other—team up in hopes of pulling a job that will get them out of the loop for good. It's a pipe dream, of course. Figuring that the best victims are criminals who can't run to the police, Troy and his buddies kidnap a baby druglord and force him to turn over a fat stash to them, as the dialogue bristles and the action crackles with authenticity. But a second kidnapping—snatching a major smuggler's infant as collateral for an uncollectible debt the smuggler owes a trafficker now lording it over a Mexican prison—goes wrong in a horrifyingly funny way, and the three conspirators find themselves on the run, wanted by every cop in California, and predictably at odds with each other. Throughout this brutal catalog of crimes, Bunker has his own axe to grind—the insanity of a three-strikes law that makes any two-time loser willing to kill to avoid being picked up on the smallest felony charge—but what lingers in the memory is the single-mindedness of his doomed hoodlums, who can't focus on anything but survival, revenge, and the big score. A jolt of frozen adrenaline, relieved only by the walk-ons of the latest accomplices and victims.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14314-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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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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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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