An uneven but entertaining tale about the struggle to displace dirty energy sources.

BIRDS SING BEFORE SUNRISE

In this environmental thriller, an American attempts to protect his family from shadowy forces in Peru.

American engineer and renewable energy specialist Frank Anderson is excited to work on a solar project high in the Andes, even if he has some suspicions regarding the motivations of the oil company that is funding it. If he is successful, it may serve as a blueprint for future solar installations in the region. Not long into the work, Frank is pulled from his car and violently beaten by a gang of masked men bearing machetes and hammers. His wife, Joanna Tavares, leaves their children home in California to stand by Frank’s hospital bedside. But shortly after her arrival, she receives a sloppy, threatening note mentioning their daughters, one almost identical to the message her husband received before his attack: “MRS ANDERSON WELCOME TO HOTEL RESIDENCIAL YOU HAVE BEUATIFUL GIRLS.” Joanna is soon kidnapped outside of the hotel by another gang of men, leaving Frank in a precarious state. Who is targeting his family and why? As he works to rescue his wife—and she plots to escape—Frank must determine the parties involved not only in his beating and her kidnapping, but also the solar project that employs him. It’s a conspiracy that will lead him to powerful corporate entities in both Peru and the United States—for whom the lure of profit is easily worth the cost of human life. Smolders’ (Cloning Galinda, 2017, etc.) prose is controlled and fluid: “When Google arrived, it spoke” a cruel “language: horrifying accidents in the Andes mountains; hypoxia, altitude sickness of the worst kind; indecipherable languages; drugs; cocaine candy; terrorists; Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path resurging; kidnapping; poisoning.” The novel moves rather slowly at the beginning, and its villains are pretty easy to identify. Even so, the time that Smolders takes to build his world is well spent, increasing the verisimilitude of what could have been a silly plot in lesser hands. The dramatic setting and some compelling characters—particularly Joanna and her environmentalist sister, Anita—help to make this a believable and enjoyable read.

An uneven but entertaining tale about the struggle to displace dirty energy sources.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5320-6666-5

Page Count: 254

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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