A mighty entertaining espionage thriller with elements that bring to mind The Magnificent Seven.



An attempt to spy on the rich and powerful takes a deadly turn in Joseph’s (The Wild Card, 2001, etc.) latest thriller.

Every year for more than a century, members of San Francisco’s all-male Bohemian Club, “a veritable bastion of global power and privilege,” have gathered for a midsummer encampment among the redwoods near idyllic Monte Rio on California’s Russian River. This year, four wild and crazy townies, who call themselves “The Russian River Society of Pirates and Thieves,” look forward to their own tradition—using the most advanced technology available to spy on these politicians, CEOs, and other major players as they behave “like the rowdy fraternity boys many of them once were.” It turns out that the Bohemian Club lies in the cross hairs of a Russian cartel that wants revenge on five American oil companies—each one led by a Boho—for fouling up a natural gas pipeline deal. FBI agent Teddy Swan and his partner, Paul Kruger, pay an unexpected visit to the Pirates; he wants them to help the agency in protecting the Bohos from terrorist attack. Also assisting is the Pirates’ favorite local deputy, the motorcycle-riding Officer Alice. After a long-winded preface, Joseph delivers a fun, fast-paced story, filled with diverse characters—some old (such as 70-year-old Butler Rhodes, one of the Pirates and a former sniper in Vietnam), some youngish (30-year-old math teacher Phillip Mercier), and many eccentric or geeky. Along the way, he offers strong descriptions (Rhodes, for example, is “Grizzled, tough as cheap jerky”), and realistic dialogue. It’s unclear exactly why the book is in 2009, however—although it may be to avoid discussion of the current political situation in the United States, or of more cutting-edge spy tech.

A mighty entertaining espionage thriller with elements that bring to mind The Magnificent Seven.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68433-142-0

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2018

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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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