A complex and tightly paced historical thriller.



Spies, diplomats, and lovers cross paths in Berlin in this Cold War–era novel.

Flanders (The Northwest Country, 2016, etc.) follows his First Trumpet trilogy with an engrossing tale of intrigue and duplicity. It’s 1959, and young American diplomat Dillon Randolph has been transferred to Berlin after his last posting resulted in a scandalous affair with an ambassador’s wife. Determined not to disappoint his distinguished family again, he agrees to avoid romantic entanglements in Germany. Luckily for readers, desire can’t be dictated, and he finds himself immediately drawn to East German actress Christa Schiller. However, she’s working for the Stasi (the East German secret police), and she’s agreed to lure Dillon into another scandal in order to protect her imprisoned younger brother. In the midst of these developments arrives Feliks Hawes, a British intelligence officer who’s been tasked with identifying the source of Secret Intelligence Service leaks from Berlin. The divided city, as U.S. security officer Lars Swanson claims, is positively “crawling with spies,” and Flanders continuously expands the novel’s scope to deliver a disorienting, heady mix of Soviet, East German, American, Hungarian, and British characters, each with his or her own agenda. As Christa remarks, “You can never be sure who is informing, who will guard your secrets, and who will trade them for their advantage.” The love-story plotline offers some of the book’s stalest lines (“Confronted by her beauty, he realized that he still desired her, that he wanted nothing more in that moment than to kiss her lips”). However, it also provides subtle commentary on how beauty can blind people, with each lover underestimating the other. Similarly, several intelligence officers miscalculate the Soviet Union’s dedication to isolating its sector of the city. In this uncertain period before the 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall, characters move from one side of the city to the other as easily as they shift alliances—unaware of the life-altering change in store.

A complex and tightly paced historical thriller.

Pub Date: March 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9908675-6-2

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Munroe Hill Press

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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