A triumphant alchemy of fact and fiction.

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The Ayatollah's Suitcase

The hellish bombing of a Kurdish city lights the fuse on a taut, foreboding espionage caper involving mobile nukes, a crazy cleric and vulnerable people in Mulkerin’s debut novel.

Declan Sullivan is the sort of intrepid, uber-competent adventurer who would probably go nuts if he wasn’t fighting to save the world in some small way. But the former Green Beret is barely keeping his head above water as he desperately tries to save his small band of comrades from the clutches of cruel enemies who shunt human beings—and potential weapons of mass destruction—around like chess pieces. Sullivan’s prior experiences in the Middle East collide with his present-day quest to liberate his friends from an ancient Turkish prison. Old colleagues are suspect, and he’s having a devil of a time thwarting the fiendishly clever Ayatollah Kashami and his elaborate machinations. In Declan’s world, the powerful have eyes everywhere, and appearances consistently deceive. Despite the expansiveness of the international locale, the harrowing odyssey feels specific and immediate, as does the finely rendered cast. The relentless pace never slows, and Sullivan and company’s frequent traumas amplify the tension. This sense of drama shows on every page, especially when Declan is struggling to rescue a friend: “He stretched until his shoulder was jammed into the crevice. At the fullest extent of his reach, he felt her skin with his fingertips.” Mulkerin’s extensive real-world experience in both medicine and the military provides him with a font of technical knowledge, but in this harrowing geopolitical potboiler, his writing chops take the lead.

A triumphant alchemy of fact and fiction.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481025829

Page Count: 390

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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