Mild-mannered supercontractor John Deal tackles a crazed cyberevangelist and his murderous minions—in the least finely nuanced, and most conventional, of Standiford's five thrillers (Deal to Die For, 1995, etc.). There can't be much worse than having a superconglomerate ``media sales center'' move into the same Coral Gables neighborhood as your mom-and-pop bookstore, threatening to undersell you, offer a more diverse stock, and drive you out of business so that it can jack up prices and cut back services- -unless of course it's getting murdered by a pair of comic-book killers just as you've come up with something that might have stopped the Mega-Media project from ever getting off the drawing board. Of course, Deal doesn't know why his old friend Arch Dolan, mainstay of Dolan's House of Books, was killed and his inoffensive Uncle Els left in a coma—but we do, and that's just the trouble. In the opening chapter, even before Arch Dolan is cooling on the mortuary slab, Standiford fingers the Rev. James Ray Willis, megalomaniacal messiah of the Worldwide Church of Light, who's convinced that the way to escape the international conspiracy of one-world, liberal-humanist thought control is to get there first with the most. In the Rev.'s case, that means a close bonding with Mega-Media and sending in the shock troops- -Dexter and Iris Kittle, a graying pair of killers from Omaha- -when negotiations stall. It's fun watching these saintly assassins dispatch Willis's more venal obstacles, but the fun is strictly one-dimensional, as is the reunion of Deal and his estranged wife Janice (paging Geena Davis) to overcome the emotional wounds in their marriage and inflict some serious wounds of the pleasanter kind back in the Nebraska tundra. A mega-villain bent on world domination, a pair of grotesque husband-and-wife hitfolk, a damsel in heavy-breathing distress, a pure avenger and his lady, a blizzardy finale. And you thought James Bond was passÇ. ($30,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-017620-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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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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