A sturdy, intense adventure in which humanity wins out over greed.

Submerged

High finance in an era of globalization serves as the backdrop for Wiid’s debut thriller.

The evil at the center of this suspenseful tale is megalomaniac Bogdan Popov, a Russian gangster who makes himself over as a billionaire following the collapse of the Soviet Union, “in a few years becoming the richest man in Russia.” Popov doesn’t care whom he hurts from on high, including the other characters in this novel who get tangled up in his affairs. Leon Jacobs is a substance-abusing student majoring in journalism; after he’s kicked out of his university, he lands a job as a scuba instructor at an Egyptian resort where he has a brief affair with Sophia, Popov’s damaged heiress daughter. She makes an introduction that gets Leon a low-level job at her father’s firm in London, where Popov himself takes notice of him. Leon and Isabella van Graan, a South African lawyer, eventually publicize Popov’s dirty deeds, which paints a target on Leon’s back. Leon then escapes to South Africa, where he befriends Franklin Benjamin, a drug-addicted, low-level gangster whose brother was killed in a botched robbery. But trouble follows, leading to a bloody showdown between Popov’s mercenary forces and a handful of Franklin’s gangster buddies. Wiid adds a necessary air of authenticity to his novel with his detailed knowledge of international finance and his South African homeland. The only drawback is it’s not always easy to decipher his characters’ local slang from context alone (“We tried Tik a few times but didn’t like it. We stick with dagga, but only on occasion, we can stop when we want”). He crafts the redemptions of Leon, Sophia, Franklin, and Isabella, who all start as unlikable characters, so that they’re believable and natural. This, in turn, makes the fate of Popov and his mercenary enforcer, Sinovich, all the more fulfilling. The novel’s pace is slow in sections, but Wiid picks it up when it counts near the end. Overall, it’s a bumpy ride but a worthwhile journey.

A sturdy, intense adventure in which humanity wins out over greed.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9946677-4-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Staging Post

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2016

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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