Scandals, hypocrisies, and inter-personal tensions at the headquarters of a big-bucks TV preacher—in a competent multi-plot novel that's unexciting in its melodrama, serviceable in its soap opera, and far too preachy (and predictable) in its ironic-expose viewpoint. Rev. John Tinker Meadows, having taken over for his now-senile father, is the centerpiece of the Meadows Center in a small Southern town—home of the Eternal Church of the Believer, complete with TV-Tabernacle, computerized investments, PR machine, etc., etc. The handsome, pious Rev, of course, is secretly sleeping with a married parishioner; the assistant pastor is a repressed sex-maniac who (it becomes clear about halfway through) killed Lindy Owen—an investigative reporter from N.Y. whose body doesn't turn up for a while. Furthermore, the Rev's imperious sister, Reverend Mary Margaret, is a fat neurotic with a father complex; the Church's computer-expert is not only a thief but a seducer of choir-girls; the head of the mailroom is a secret lesbian; and everyone's involved in power-plays, blackmailings, and coverups. Sounds like a trashy TV series? It does indeed. But MacDonald is a solid, classy enough storyteller to maintain steady interest as he sketches in all these subplots—along with the one centered on stockbroker Roy Owen, who's staying at a nearby motel and quietly sleuthing the case of his missing (murdered) wife Lindy. There are intriguing vignettes along the way—like the tense, un-cliched scene between computer-expert/womanizer Rev. Joe Deets and the angry mother of his latest conquest. And MacDonald offers convincing details on the Church's super-technology, including a phone-solicitation program using the synthesized voice of senile Rev. Meadows Sr. (The woman who engineers these programs finally quits in disgust.) Eventually, however, it becomes clear that the various plot-strands aren't going to interweave in a suspenseful way, and that each of the storylines will be given a pat, trite resolution: the murderer commits suicide; Roy finds new love with a quirky local girl; the Church's smarter employees happily quit; the womanizer finds God; and a genuine preacher shows up Rev. John and Rev. Mary Margaret for the hypocrites they are. Without the realism, the tension, or the engaging people of Condominium (1977): a minor MacDonald melodrama, on a far-from-fresh subject (cf. Harold Robbins' Spellbinder, etc.)—but readable enough to attract that big built-in readership.

Pub Date: March 26, 1984

ISBN: 0450058190

Page Count: 347

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1984

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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