If readers don’t mind prose that occasionally stumbles instead of soars, they’ll enjoy following Norman's hero as he figures...

SLOW BURN

Demoted Utah cop Sam Kincaid must put aside personal feelings when the daughter of the man who demoted him is kidnapped.

Kincaid had been chief of the Special Investigations Branch of the Utah Department of Corrections until he ran afoul of Ben Cates, who is now executive director of the department. Cates asks Kincaid for help because, with his daughter Samantha’s life at risk, he acknowledges that Kincaid is the best man to find her. Readers learn at the outset that the kidnapper is Jorge Lucero. Two deaths, one of a retired cop and another of a judge, were initially thought to be unrelated until Kincaid and his team learn that both men were involved in a case regarding Lucero’s son. When that trail also leads to Cates, the investigators are frantic to find Samantha before Lucero’s path of revenge takes even more lives. There are some genuine moments of tension as the team works against a narrowing deadline. But Norman’s pedestrian prose too often gets in the way of his storytelling, with winceworthy phrases like “until I drink my first cup of Joe” or “I quipped.” And what normal person (not a waitress) offers a guest in her house “coffee, tea, or an assortment of cold drinks”? Still, Norman is able to portray Kincaid as a decent man trying to juggle passion for his work, his devotion to his daughter during a custody fight with his ex-wife, and perhaps even a chance at romance.

If readers don’t mind prose that occasionally stumbles instead of soars, they’ll enjoy following Norman's hero as he figures out the next steps in his life.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-938436-40-6

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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