A minute-by-minute account with no detail left out—but still less is here than meets the eye.

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MR. MAYBE

Breathless, talky, class-conscious romance from the British author of Jemima J (2000).

Libby Mason is an up-and-coming London publicist who touts minor celebrities like comedian Tony Baloney and TV perky-person Amanda Baker. Her job is interesting but it doesn’t pay well, and Libby dreams of marrying a wealthy Mr. Right—especially since she just broke up with a Mr. Wrong. Enter Nick, a handsome but scruffy writer whose politics are decidedly Labour. Libby, a knee-jerk Tory, finds Nick’s leftish leanings faintly appalling, not to mention his penchant for hanging around in pubs, or the fact that he’s on the dole, or that his unpublished novel has been rejected more than once. More than twice. But Nick is very sexy, and if he’s not be Mr. Right, he’s certainly Mr. Maybe—and is ready for a fling, starting with a slippery bathtub seduction scene. Libby is thrilled to discover that Nick wrote the oral sex chapter in the book of love—and that his other amatory skills make her toes curl with erotic delight. But she can’t possibly marry a poor man, can she? Of course not. And Nick’s made it clear he’s not looking for a real relationship. Libby sheds a few obligatory tears and moves on to Ed, a filthy-rich investment banker who’s happy to buy her whatever ultraexpensive designer outfit she fancies and take her out to posh places in his fabulous Porsche. How unfortunate that so much food gets stuck in his rather unattractive mustache. And that he’s so disappointing in bed, panting and humping in a dogged sort of way. But he is so very rich . . . . Will shamelessly materialistic Libby marry dull but devoted Ed? Will her loyal girlfriends ever stop squealing over it all? Will Nick ever sell his novel for an advance big enough to make Libby happy?

A minute-by-minute account with no detail left out—but still less is here than meets the eye.

Pub Date: June 5, 2001

ISBN: 0-7679-0519-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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MERCY

Despite kilt-wearing characters right out of Brigadoon, Picoult (Picture Perfect, 1995, etc.) persuasively explores a mercy killing in a small Massachusetts town and the subject of spouses who love too much. Wheelock has been home to the tradition-upholding MacDonalds and their hereditary chieftains since the 18th century, when the clan fled Scotland after the British defeated them in battle. Each clan chief has inherited more responsibilities over time, and the current laird Cam MacDonald is, like his father before him, the local chief of police. Cam yearns to travel and, though married, finds wife Allie's devotion stifling. Allie, a florist, has in turn suppressed all of her own opinions and pleasures for the sake of making Cam, whom she adores, happy. As the story begins, another MacDonald, James, has demonstrated his overwhelming love for wife Maggie in a very extreme form: James turns himself in to cousin Cam after admitting that he has smothered Maggie at her request because she was terminally ill with cancer and could no longer stand the pain. While the quality and wisdom of James's devotion to his wife will be tried in public, Allie's love for Cam will also be tested as free spirit Mia arrives in town. Mia has been everywhere and seen all the places Cam dreams of; she is also a whiz with flowers and gets immediately hired by Allie. While Allie helps James's lawyer find witnesses who will attest to his devotion to Maggie (he's now being tried for murder), Cam and Mia have an affair. A heartsick Allie learns of it, throws Cam out, sells all of his belongings, and then tries to forget him. But true love is resilient, and Allie, like James, having learned the price of being ``the one who loves more,'' will now try for greater balance. Overly predictable characters aside, Picoult does manage this time to bring trendy, headline-grabbing themes to life. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-14160-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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