A formulaic but entertaining thriller.

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Waking Up in Medellin

An auditor finds herself in over her head when she accepts a dangerous assignment in Colombia in Lane’s debut novel.

Nikki Garcia’s job involves investigating and outing large-scale corporate fraud. An assignment in faraway Colombia seems like the perfect way for her to throw herself into her work, as she’s still recovering from the death of her son and the end of her marriage. Once in Medellin, however, she realizes that misappropriation of funds at Amazonia Steel is just the tip of the iceberg. Its CEO, Manuel Del Campo, alternates between being dismissive of Nikki and threatening her if she doesn’t drop the case. The few employees who do speak to her and try to get her inside information start to meet mysterious, “accidental” deaths. At the center of it all is Del Campo’s dashing, handsome friend Eduardo Duarte, who sweeps Nikki off her feet even though she’s not entirely sure that he’s innocent of wrongdoing. She must keep her head clear and her heart strong as her investigation draws her closer to serious danger and more people around her wind up dead. Lane shows a vivid sense of place as she describes the “densely populated and disorganized” Medellin city streets and the “thick stone and brick walls” suffering from “more than three centuries of neglect” in a castle in the ancient city of Cartagena, as seen through the eyes of her heroine. A former certified public accountant herself, she also does well at conveying enough business jargon to move the story along without overloading readers. The plot is fairly predictable, although there are moments of genuine suspense and uncertainty. Nikki is a strong heroine but still thinly drawn; she’s capable, beautiful, and emotionally wounded but otherwise not a fully fleshed-out character. The romance with Eduardo also feels a bit thin, with a few too many hackneyed lines such as, “You must have known I was falling in love with you. I haven’t taken my eyes off you since I met you.” Yet, in the end, this is an enjoyable read even if there aren’t many surprises in store.

A formulaic but entertaining thriller.

Pub Date: March 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68313-014-7

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Pen-L Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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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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