While volunteering for the Pacific Northwest section of the Miyako Project, an organization created to help clean up debris...

DESTRUCTION ISLAND

In Cooper’s (Riders of the Tides, 2013) second thriller featuring tribal forester Earl Armstrong, a wealthy man resorts to murder and kidnapping to find an ancient mask on an island off the Washington coast.

While volunteering for the Pacific Northwest section of the Miyako Project, an organization created to help clean up debris from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Earl finds a corpse in the surf. An autopsy suggests possible homicide, and Earl realizes that the dead man, Will, may have been killed on Destruction Island, a marine reserve. Will’s brother, Leon, has the same suspicion, and after strange men spot Leon on the island, someone tries to blow up his boat. It turns out that billionaire antiquities collector Juno Betar is searching for a ceremonial mask hidden in a cave on the island. Earl has “vivid dreams” involving his great-grandfather, Christian Zauner, the island’s first lighthouse keeper, and in one of them, he witnesses the discovery of the mask in the late 19th century. Once Juno learns that Earl may know the mask’s location, the forester and his family become targets. Meanwhile, a Japanese woman named Norika Edo is looking for a ship’s escape pod, lost during the tsunami. The pod contains her husband’s body, but it turns out that yakuza gangsters are after something else in the vessel—a small fortune in diamonds and bearer bonds. Cooper’s novel boasts suspense with a touch of mysticism, along with exciting scenes of chases, murders and kidnappings. Norika and her team’s hunt puts them in the same vicinity as the other characters, but their plots don’t converge until near the very end. Overall, the story of Earl and Juno is more riveting, as Norika’s tale isn’t as fully developed. Still, both stories have memorable moments, as when yakuza boss Yuri Matasuba reminds Norika of her husband’s debt, leaving her with fewer fingers; and when other characters undertake an aquatic attack in underwater caves. Along the way, Cooper also adds nice, spoiler-free references to Earl’s first adventure.

Pub Date: July 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988198333

Page Count: 476

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2014

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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