A fast-paced and engaging Jessica James outing.

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JACKAL

From the Jessica James Mysteries series , Vol. 4

Oliver’s (Coyote, 2017, etc.) “cowgirl philosopher” returns in this Las Vegas-set mystery-thriller.

Jessica James’ rough-hewn manner belies her training in philosophy, and her penchant for finding trouble has led her into three previous adventures. The latest book in the series finds her taking a bus from her home in Whitefish, Montana, to Las Vegas, where her ailing mother asks her to find a stage magician named Zane “the Mesmerizer” Powers, whom she says is Jessica’s biological father. Needing a place to stay, Jessica gets back in touch with dancer Cayenne Scarlett, who was born Mackenzie “Kennie” Czarnowski, “the only popular girl who’d been nice to Jessica in high school…probably because Kennie’s dyslexia had made it necessary for her to cheat off Jessica to pass English lit.” Kennie has since “made it big” dancing with Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, but it quickly becomes obvious to Jessica that there’s more to her old schoolmate than meets the eye. Just as in previous installments, Jessica soon finds herself embroiled in a dark plot—this time involving a black market organ-harvesting operation. She also uncovers darker personal revelations about Kennie, as well as her own mother. This series entry, like the others, crackles with energy throughout; Oliver has a good ear for dialogue and a keen instinct for pacing, and her scene-setting gets more evocative with every outing: “The sunlight set the rocks ablaze in orange light, and the otherworldly scenery transported her back to the age of the dinosaurs.” Jessica remains an instantly likable protagonist, but Oliver resists the temptation to pair her with a one-dimensional villain; indeed, her antagonist is, in some ways, the most intriguing character in the book. The well-orchestrated conclusion will leave fans of the series eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

A fast-paced and engaging Jessica James outing.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9975836-5-6

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Kaos Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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