RETRIBUTION

Kill George Elgin's kid with an experimental drug and the morally numb Vietnam vet stops at nothing to exact his revenge. In his third thriller, ex-NYPD cop Grant (Officer Down, 1993) paints broadly: a white hat for the good guy, a black hat for the bad guy, with a Manhattan office tower at stake. The bad guy nearly steals the show. Michael Devlin, the new head of corporate security for Taggert Industries and an ex-cop himself, has all the resources money can buy to protect CEO Jason Taggert atop his 40-story fortress. Goaded in the boardroom and bedroom by Taggert's ruthless ``right-hand woman'' in charge of experimental drugs, Devlin hires professional security guards and off-duty former colleagues from the NYPD's elite TAC team to fend off crazed assassin Elgin. As Elgin closes in, Devlin readies every state-of-the-art gizmo from customized encryption software to elevators opened only by palm prints. He brings in a team of computer whizzes: a faux-Rasta giant of a black ex-con and a foul-mouthed computer hacker who happens to be the widow of Devlin's ex-partner. Can they get all 40 stories of their electronic fortress de-bugged in time to keep their security systems safe from Elgin? Problem is, George Elgin hacks into computers almost as well as he hacks up humans. Over three weeks, the body count approaches double figures, some of it imaginatively (Elgin is partial to dismemberment), and his ingenuity, courage, loyalty, tenacity, and deep but twisted sense of justice drive him almost to success against overwhelming odds. The full-bore action rises into a ludicrous made-for-Bruce-Willis climax on the 40th floor. Did it never occur to any of the top cops in the moonlighting TAC team that investigating George Elgin is their on- duty job, too? Don't read here for plausibility; Grant has the all the technical details right, but they go with a by-the-numbers plot as relentless as an elevator with every button pushed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-017640-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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