The persistently entertaining lawyer leads a superb batch of characters and subplots.


From the Kansas City Files series , Vol. 1

A Washington, D.C., attorney packs his bags for Kansas City, where he takes on drug-dealing mobsters, in this thriller.

After years in Washington, Jeff Trask requests a transfer to the Kansas City U.S. Attorney’s office, where his lawyer friend Cameron Turner works. One of Trask’s first moves as senior litigation counsel is to indict 60 individuals on drug-related charges. But trouble is already brewing within the Kansas City Mafia. Readers know that “Little Dom” Silvestri and his goons the Gonzalez brothers have whacked John Porcello, convinced that he was a rat. Not only was that an unsanctioned hit, but the trio also killed John’s wife, Margie, who was the sister of the local don, Anthony Minelli. Complicating matters are Little Dom’s defiance of mob policy by pushing heroin and an unknown shooter later assassinating the Gonzalezes. Meanwhile, Trask, as expected, has made it to trial with only one of the 60 indictments. But the fallout of Little Dom’s actions ultimately generates evidence that the attorney may be able to use against the Mafia. And the blatant threat of someone firing two slugs into his house isn’t enough to dissuade the resolved Trask. The recurring protagonist has already tackled Herculean tasks, such as a political assassination and Islamic terrorists, in five crime dramas. So while mobsters are no more menacing than past villains, Rainer’s (Death Votes Last, 2017, etc.) change of scenery gives the character a breath of fresh air. Furthermore, the author, as in preceding novels, excels at fully developing a bevy of characters for this first installment of The Kansas City Files. The bad guys in this tale, including Little Dom’s mob-tied father, Big Dom, are just as enthralling as the virtuous players, particularly Trask’s wife, Lynn. The story thrives on the attorney’s legal fisticuffs, relayed via dialogue-laden scenes. Secondary plotlines nevertheless shine, from one of Trask and Lynn’s beloved dogs facing a serious medical condition to the protagonist identifying a potential drug courier during a flight.

The persistently entertaining lawyer leads a superb batch of characters and subplots.

Pub Date: March 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64237-582-4

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2019

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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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