An often diverting story of memorable characters hunting treasure.

CAYO COSTA CROSS

An estranged couple’s dispute over one member’s potentially valuable heirloom turns deadly in Mills’ (Pineland Gold, 2017, etc.) thriller.

In 1910, Jim McKenzie, needing funds for daughter Sarah’s tuberculosis treatment, steals a gold cross from a drunken Cuban captain. Unable to get back to his family in time to help his child, Jim buries the cross on Cayo Costa Island, specifying its location in a letter to his wife, Claire. More than a century later, Lynn Chapman owns that letter, which Jim’s ancestors have passed down. Evidently, a hurricane had covered the burial site for the cross, preventing Claire from retrieving it. That certainly didn’t stop Lynn’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Bobby, from looking. He now feels entitled to some of the cross’s estimated million-dollar value, as his search cost most of his inheritance money. When Bobby subsequently finds a way to clear the area where the cross is located, Lynn fears he’ll get his hands on the antique. So she seeks help from private investigator, former cop, and boat owner Doug Shearer. The two head to the island with hopes of reaching the cross first. Unluckily, Bobby is already there and, armed with a weaponized drone, isn’t willing to give up what he believes is rightfully his. Straightforward characters populate Mills’ tale, the latest in his Pine Island Sound Mystery series. Bobby, for example, is the unmitigated villain, his anger so sharp and frequent that he antagonizes his own divorce lawyer. But backstory for nearly every individual adds interest: Readers learn what Lynn originally saw in Bobby, while Bobby’s pitiful childhood may explain his unsavory present-day behavior. The narrative spotlights supporting characters as well, like Lynn’s genial attorney, Beth Mancini. Recurrent stories from Beth’s lawyer boyfriend, Frank Powers, about one of his cases, though curious (a judge is the defendant in a “sex trial”), generally come across as tangents. The book’s latter half, however, stays on track, as Bobby menaces Lynn and Doug, and Mills amply details their time on the breezy island.

An often diverting story of memorable characters hunting treasure.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-70210-485-2

Page Count: 217

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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