A brisk, often entertaining story with a tough protagonist.

ARABIAN VENGEANCE

A PAT WALSH THRILLER

In Lawrence’s (Lost in Arabia, 2017, etc.) thriller, an international arms dealer and CIA asset searches for the person who’s trying to frame him for terrorist activity.

Pat Walsh’s company, Trident, is a CIA subcontractor that supplies military goods, including weapons and ammunition, to American-allied forces. When the U.S. government suspends his contract and freezes his assets, he knows that something is very wrong, so he quickly goes into hiding and drops off the grid with his girlfriend, Diane, in tow. He contacts his friend, CIA agent Mike Guthrie, and finds out that the Joint Terrorism Task Force has issued an arrest order against him, due to a fatal ISIS bombing in Belgium that apparently used a Trident explosive. However, there’s no other evidence linking Trident to terrorists, and Pat thinks that someone, for some reason, is plotting to shut his company down. Meanwhile, readers know that a man named Michael Genovese is spearheading the frame-up. The mob-tied CEO of defense firm G3 views Pat as a threat to his illicit plan to “keep America strong” by pitting the country’s enemies against one another. Pat, armed with various weapons, surveillance equipment, and his Trident team, manages to track down the people targeting him. It’s soon clear, however, that someone else is giving intel to the bad guys—information that can only be coming from inside the CIA. Lawrence’s action-packed tale highlights a smashing hero/villain coupling. Both receive memorable introductions: Genovese is shown taking a seemingly innocuous jog, and Pat, surfing near his beach house. This laid-back setup makes later revelations about both characters all the more striking. The story has some elements of mystery (the CIA mole, for instance, isn’t immediately revealed), and the author makes sure that Pat remains a man of action throughout. Pat’s skills are both admirable and plausible; although a serious injury hardly slows him down, it still requires his attention. Unfortunately, though, none of the novel’s female characters has any real bearing on the plot—not even Diane, Pat’s ostensible “soulmate.”

A brisk, often entertaining story with a tough protagonist.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-976063-21-3

Page Count: 230

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2018

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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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