All in all, a bracing, satisfying ride.


“Coolsville” is a high-tech Dublin suburb where Mordaunt’s edgy, intriguing debut unfolds in a brave new near-future when battles are waged over computer programs and gene pools.

Not that the Irish author is above some old-fashioned fisticuffs. When the mega-conglomerate WentWest, Inc., finds itself the target of a mysterious, seemingly all-powerful cyber-terror group called Mantra, the burly and brutish CEO, J.P. Gillespie, isn’t shy about cracking heads. After all, it’s bad enough that Mantra has made world headlines by electronically sabotaging every recent WentWest-sponsored sporting event. But a secret WentWest project designed “chemically” to alter the hard-core inmates of nearby WentWest Correctional into meek, prolific worker drones is threatened with exposure. One of WentWest’s project physicians was ready to leak the sordid details to the press, and now Sister Jasmine Ylang-Ylang, a sort of super-sleuth nun, is snooping around, quietly scouring for clues. She may have found an ally in Papa Charlie McCormack, a WentWest archivist who’s teaming with coworker Marshall McLemon to create an online museum exhibit aimed at preserving vintage turn-of-the-millennium culture. As if Gillespie’s plate weren’t full enough, he also has to deal with his suave superior, Henri McCambridge-LeMans, chairman of WentWest Europe, who has arrived ostensibly to personally supervise WentWest’s anti-Mantra countermeasures. In truth, McCambridge-LeMans has his own secret project: to live forever, using a cutting-edge gene-splicing technique. All he needs is a willing donor, and who better than his unsuspecting distant cousin, Marshall McLemon, a test-tube baby no less, who looks young for his age. Meanwhile, not all of Mordaunt’s plot balloons quite stay aloft, but there’s still enough imaginative breeze blowing to keep our interest keen. Crisp prose and a colorful cast help, from Gillespie’s oily jazz musician son “Bluey” to his two bumbling henchmen, Mick and Frank Cooper (no relation, except distantly to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).

All in all, a bracing, satisfying ride.

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-09-945026-7

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Vintage UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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