Charlie amuses with his superlative craftiness—but that’s about it for originality. (N.B.: Don’t confuse this spy fiction...



Run-of-the-mill escapism—fun but not distinguished—from third-timer Garber (Vertical Run, 1995, etc.).

“Whirlwind” is the code-name for a new device, supposedly the most fearsome and horrific since the atom bomb. When two generators on a secret base in New Mexico blow up, Russian spy Irina Kolodenkova falls into possession of a computer disc and a 70-pound block of Whirlwind that she intends to get to the Russian embassy in San Francisco for transportation to Moscow. Sam, the angry National Security Advisor who plans to be the next president, calls in grizzled widower Charlie McKenzie, a death-proof hero in his 50s who’s just finished a two-year jail term, having taken the fall for higher-ups, including Sam. Charlie had been doing dirty work (killings) for the CIA. As Sam explains to Charlie, the future of the West depends on recovering the disc and the block. Even more self-confident than James Bond, Charlie returns to duty—for $20 million—and sets off in pursuit of Irina. He quickly catches up with the gorgeous spy, who, like Charlie, is an all-purpose defensive being and supercapable. Enter Johan Schmidt, a supreme killer hired by Sam to take out Charlie once Charlie gets Whirlwind back from Irina. The long series of chases here involves Charlie’s outwitting the CEO of the California DefCon company that invented Whirlwind, his fighting off Schmidt while saving Irina, and teaming up with Irina for an exciting dash across a surreal desert landscape, along with firefights showing that Irina is as sure a shot as Charlie. Meanwhile, the Chinese have a hand in the game as well.

Charlie amuses with his superlative craftiness—but that’s about it for originality. (N.B.: Don’t confuse this spy fiction with the season’s other novel named Whirlwind, a bad-weather tale by Michael Grant Jaffe, coming from Norton in October.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-059650-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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