An Acting President's power grab involves both constitutional challenge and military coup in this near-future political melodrama, with which Batchelor (Peter Nevsky and the True Story of the Russian Moon Landing, 1993, etc.) makes his own grab for a large, action-oriented readership. It's 2003. In January, Democratic President Teddy Jay, abandoned by his wife and deeply depressed, entered the hospital, using the 25th Amendment to transfer his duties to Vice President Shy Garland. The story begins five months later with a military exercise, Garland's brainchild, that culminates with the shooting of a stand-in President by Col. Red Schofield, commander of the operation. As Jay, claiming recovery, prepares to rejoin his wife and resume the presidency, Garland mounts his constitutional challenge; only if it fails will he resort to the military option (code-named Father's Day). Message: ``The biggest son of a bitch...in national politics,'' for whom life is a baseball game, will do anything to win. The contest, though, is unequal: Jay is a wimp who must rely on his political enemies to restore him to power. These include Republicans like naval war hero and presidential hopeful Jack Longfellow and Longfellow's wife, Jean, the Senate Minority Leader. They get a boost when designated shooter Schofield leaks to sister Toni, who (happy coincidence) is Longfellow's mistress. During their rush to Occupied Moldova (Uncle Sam is world policeman again) to get a written statement from Schofield, Jack and Toni behave like everyone else in the book, playing with shiny new technology and racing for planes as they hurry up and wait for a twisty, improbable denouement. That's the action here, aside from a Clancy-esque rattle of hardware at the start and close. Batchelor's dubious premise (would America really give its president five months off for therapy?) and his skin-deep characterizations make for a disappointing concoction. (First printing of 100,000; film rights to Cinergi; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-3266-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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