An understated genre tale that should engage readers with its smart, lighthearted tone.



A billionaire enlists a noted ex-advertising man to promote space tourism for a public that, in light of a recent UFO sighting, may be a bit wary in this sci-fi-infused sequel.

Convincing the world that a man named Sebastian was the Messiah reborn was just another gig for Mal Thomas. But now he’s famous, with his resultant book a best-seller that has turned him into an “accidental spiritual guru” approached by random strangers. He catches the eye of Huw Hudson, CEO of Space Rider, who aspires to provide outer space tours. Space tourism could be a reality in a matter of years, but a phenomenon in Mthatha, South Africa—unexplained lights and a rugby ball shape—may prove a detriment. Hudson wants Mal to allay any of the public’s potential fears of contact with an alien species. But FBI Special Agent Chloe Swift sees reason to distrust the CEO: she’s unofficially investigating the disappearance of Italian cold fusion physicist Aldo Totti. The physicist vanished while vacationing in Florida but he may have visited Hudson’s Brazilian facility. Mal heads to Mthatha to talk to the town residents, and he and Swift soon deduce that the reputed UFO may have been a hoax, part of a coverup to conceal Hudson’s true agenda. Much of Holden’s (Sea of Doubt, 2016, etc.) story plays like a compelling mystery: the puzzling lights, the missing scientist, and later someone’s kidnapping. The sci-fi elements are minimal but absorbing, especially once whatever Hudson has at his facility is revealed. Mal is a likable, fully developed protagonist who recognizes his faults. He acknowledges that Hudson could be manipulating him, simply because Mal has previously succumbed to similar maneuvering. Mal also observes situations as a sci-fi fan (he’s an admitted Trekkie), though the deft descriptions fortunately don’t rely on pop-culture references. For example, he may anticipate the USS Enterprise for a craft’s cockpit but recounts instead an atypical “cavernous interior.” The eventual diverting foray into sci-fi territory is a revelation for Mal, both as an extraordinary event and a personal experience.

An understated genre tale that should engage readers with its smart, lighthearted tone.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9978970-1-2

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Clean Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2017

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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