A lighthearted, shoot’em-up romp in the Montana Territory—fans should be happy that the author plans two sequels to complete...

The White-Haired Buffalo Hunter

Prolific author Spalsbury (Zorkon’s Secret, 2016, etc.) returns to the Old West for this fourth volume in his Hunt series.

James A. “Buff” Beaufait is the title character, but he is only one of the stars of this Western. There is Doc Whitfield, the medical man who wears a black cape and doubles as “the fastest gunfighter in the West”; Jaime Larson, proprietor of the Lead Sky Livery and Dray; Snort, the buffalo runner who quotes Shakespeare; and Sam Haddly, a former slave and current proprietor of the blacksmith shop. They make a formidable team. It is 1872 in the Montana Territory, which is filled with plenty of dangerous varmints to be confronted: a small party of Cheyenne warriors, the usual assortment of nasty crooks and murderers, and an abusive husband and father. Happily they are outflanked, if not always outnumbered, by the good guys: the peaceful Blackfoot Indians who are part of the Whitfield clan, the kindly citizenry ready to take in assorted orphans, and the clever, gunslinging heroes who are determined to civilize the territory. The shootouts, the pileup of bodies, and even the terror of Snort almost being burned at the stake are all lightened by Spalsbury’s omnipresent sense of humor, the quirky schemes he devises, and a joyful optimism. Underlying all the violence is a core belief in the power of the simple acts of friendship. Of the numerous subplots, the one about Crow Eye, “a young half-breed skinner,” fierce and terrifying with extraordinary tomahawk skills, is especially charming—watch his heart begin to melt when he rescues a puppy who falls asleep in his lap. Gun enthusiasts should enjoy the author’s attention to detail as he describes the plethora of weaponry called upon to do the job, complete with modifications and homemade bullets. The rollicking, action-driven novel has so many supporting characters that it is sometimes difficult to keep them all straight. But no matter; the quick pace should sustain readers over any temporary confusion, and by the end everyone in Chesterville, Montana, will likely become comfortably familiar.

A lighthearted, shoot’em-up romp in the Montana Territory—fans should be happy that the author plans two sequels to complete the series.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5355-8396-1

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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