Weber (Targets of Opportunity, 1993) takes a vicious stab at Japan-bashing in a clunky, to-the-ends-of-the-earth thriller that makes the yellow peril in Michael Crichton's Rising Sun seem positively benign. When a gunbearing helicopter (painted in the colors of a local TV station) strafes Japanese tourists aboard a cruise ship near Hawaii's Pearl Harbor, America's already frayed relations with Dai Nihon take another turn for the worse. Concerned about counterattacks, White House insiders assign senior CIA officer Stave Wickham and FBI agent Susan Nakamura to the case. Before the two can even start their inquiries, however, a group of US sightseers is ambushed in Osaka. The intrepid, globe-trotting feds soon learn (but cannot prove) that Tadashi Matsukawa (a billionaire businessman intent on making Japan a military as well as economic superpower which will brook no interference from its erstwhile conqueror) is responsible for these and other terrorist acts that have heightened East/West tensions. While persuading Tokyo's shifty mandarins to stand fast against an increasingly obdurate Washington, the vaultingly ambitious industrialist dispatches assassins to kill the odd couple as they jet about the Asian-Pacific Basin in pursuit of the evidence that could expose him and his nefarious schemes. Although the dynamic duo survive all attempts on their lives, miscalculations on both sides of the geopolitical cheessboard produce an escalation that results in the sinking of a US carrier and nuclear submarine in the strategic Strait of Malacca. Wickham and Nakamura finally beard their renegade lion in his Marunouchi den, obliging an abashed Japan to back away from a climactic confrontation with America. At the close, wily Oriental gentlemen are again conspiring to rule the world by force of arms and commercial might. With some of the most stilted (and didactic) dialogue this side of Tom Swift, plus over-the-top plotting, an episodic exercise whose appeal appears limited largely to confirmed Japanophobes.

Pub Date: March 23, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-13939-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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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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