An engaging thriller, even as Carr weaves a perplexing web of conspiracies.

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THE LIST

FIRST IN THE WALLIS JONES SERIES

In Carr’s (A Place to Call Home, 2007, etc.) thriller, a family becomes the focus of two warring secret societies.

Wallis Jones, a divorce attorney in Richmond, Va., lives a quiet life with her husband, Norman Weiskopf, also an attorney, and their son, Ned, a 9-year-old genius. Their suburban bliss is interrupted, however, when their family becomes a key component in a war between the world’s two enormously influential secret societies, Management and the Circle. The history and reach of these societies is revealed in waves throughout the novel; ultimately, it becomes clear that these two groups shape every major political and economic situation in the world, and one or the other has been doing so since the late 1700s. Typically, these groups operate in ways that are either entirely covert or seemingly transparent that they appear to be beyond suspicion. However, a series of careless mistakes—and a mole secretly passing key Circle information to Management—leads to violence done to outsiders close to Wallis. The sprawling nature of the conspiracy creates a large cast of characters, many of whom disappear for long stretches of the narrative. Although this can be confusing at times, it allows Carr to illustrate how a range of characters is affected by these warring societies instead of just focusing on Wallis and her family. Nonetheless, the story’s most compelling moments involve Wallis’ family. She’s enlisted for help by a low-level member of the Circle, mostly due to her reputation as a tough, honest lawyer. Understandably, she’s skeptical at first, but as her friends and neighbors begin to die in supposed accidents, she can’t help but get involved. As shocked as Wallis is by the existence of these secret societies, the greater surprise is how close to home the conspiracy lies. So even as Wallis uncovers secrets that reveal the real reasons for global wars and why certain countries were colonized, her more emotional discoveries pertain to herself and her family.

An engaging thriller, even as Carr weaves a perplexing web of conspiracies.  

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1620304303

Page Count: 450

Publisher: MRC Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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