A suspenseful and action-packed, if sometimes-problematic, aviation tale.

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AIRLINER DOWN

AN AVIATION THRILLER

In Etzil’s debut thriller, an off-duty pilot may be the only passenger on Flight 2262 that can prevent it from crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

Vacationing airline pilot Kevin McSorley is looking forward to spending six nights in Hawaii with his girlfriend, Margie. But the five-hour flight from Los Angeles is doomed from the start, as a man named Nasir Kalib has rigged the airliner with C-4 explosive. Kalib, who blames Americans for bombing his village in his native Afghanistan, has been living in the United States for more than a decade, plotting his revenge. Luckily, the resulting, midflight explosion doesn’t obliterate the airliner, and the autopilot kicks in, so that it doesn’t immediately plummet. But Kevin estimates that there are only four hours of fuel remaining, at which point the plane, on its current course, will still be above the ocean. Kevin needs to get past the seemingly impenetrable cockpit door and, if necessary, take the controls. But he must contend with a bullheaded air marshal on board, as well as scared passengers. However, he gets help from a former aviation mechanic and a CIA analyst named Jack Lamburt to manually pilot the airliner to land—or as close to land as he can get. In this series starter, Etzil generates suspense with a countdown of the remaining time to the explosive “event,” which later becomes the time remaining until the fuel is gone. The story scrupulously establishes its major characters, including Jack, Kalib, and flight attendant Carol. But the book truly shines after the major action begins, with frenzied passengers, an unexpected death, and a loaded gun in the mix. Longtime pilot Etzil’s aviation expertise adds realism without slowing things down; for instance, he succinctly details the specifics about the potential failure of the autopilot, making the danger abundantly clear. But although the author does develop his female characters, their physical descriptions repeatedly zero in on their breasts. At one point, Kevin even thinks about how he “read in a magazine once” that women feel empowered by men gazing at their chests.

A suspenseful and action-packed, if sometimes-problematic, aviation tale.

Pub Date: March 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5210-1682-4

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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