An intriguing but uneven tale in search of how telepathy works.



Dangerous new technology is deployed in Britain to prove that telepathy is possible in this sci-fi debut.

The citizens of Exeter in southwest England have noticed a strange hum. It occurs daily and seems to give people headaches as well as cause them to hear sounds and see flashes of light. Many believe the new Energy Recovery Facility is the source. One witness to the mob demanding answers from the plant is the “Leather Jacket Man,” who’s experiencing increased voices in his head—yet he isn’t sure whom to blame. The truth is that Project Blue Crystal, based in the United States, has followed the intense signal of a telepathic receiver—whether it be a person or place—to Exeter. The project has set up an electromagnetic pulse generator, designed by Australian scientist Kingsley Khan, in a secure location unbeknown to the British government. Blue Crystal is also testing a quantum-entanglement machine, created by Canadian scientist Henning Horlicks, near the Cedars mental hospital. The group believes that people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality have great potential as telepathic receivers. Blue Crystal’s experiment grows more complicated when two security guards at Kingsley’s facility are struck down by the EM pulse. His superiors in the United States order him to shoot the fallen guards to cover up any harm done by the hum. Ridler’s novel explores the overlap between science and Eastern mysticism in that “blue is the colour of the throat chakra, and so is associated with clear communication.” While the Leather Jacket Man initially seems like an enthralling protagonist, the author puts Kingsley, Henning, and lawyer Julia Barnes in the spotlight instead. The strange events in Britain are placed in dramatic context by the line “Exeter will be the new Roswell.” And even though President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron frequently exchange stern words, the narrative tension falters when Ridler’s principal trio enjoys Exeter like tourists (test-driving an Aston Martin, for example). Overall, this story almost reads like a screenplay, with focused dialogue but choppy scene setting. Nevertheless, the central premise captivates and Exeter is portrayed attractively.

An intriguing but uneven tale in search of how telepathy works.

Pub Date: March 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984589-18-7

Page Count: 182

Publisher: XlibrisUK

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2019

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Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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