A step up for Amiel (Star Time, 1991, etc.) as he plots a strong courtroom meller that hooks you fast—and pulls you straight through to a knotty, post-courtroom surprise ending. Amiel also goes for deeper thoughts than usual, with burned- out hero, criminal defender Dan Lazar, sunk in spiritual disbelief. The main story details the high-gloss lives of old money in Philadelphia, but it's anchored in the gutter tricks of Lazar as he gets a rapist-murderer off the hook, as well as a boorish Mafia chieftain. Lazar's reputation is so shady, in fact, that even though he's innocent of wrongdoing his license gets lifted for six months, a bad blot on his honor. Meanwhile, he falls for Susan Boelter, wife-then-widow of wealthy publisher Peter Boelter—head of the prestigious Philadelphia Herald, whose city desk, pressroom, union problems, and plant layout get plenty of play. Peter wants to sell the family paper to the owner of the ailing local tabloid, the Mirror, the Herald's only rival. The Herald will then fade into the Mirror. Susan, however, has inherited controlling stock because Peter's father didn't trust his wild son, and she's against the sale (which would bring Peter personally $60 million). So Peter sues for divorce, cuts Susan off from all income, and—trying to sway her vote—behaves like a monster, especially in seducing the affections of their daughter Karen. When Peter is found dead at the bottom of the cellar stairs, the medical examiner declares the death a homicide by a blunt instrument. Susan calls in Dan Lazar to defend her, who pleads to have his license returned for the case. Subplots about the rapist gone rampant and other dirty deeds multiply until the day in court arrives.... Reader sympathies are dizzied by the resolution's who-did- what-to-whom tennis match, but you're likely to go through with it. Neat storytelling with the usual suspects—though you'll never guess who did it.

Pub Date: June 2, 1993

ISBN: 0-517-57520-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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