An intriguing and effective political thriller about a complex global threat.

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The Stanstead Incident

In this debut novel, political unrest in Quebec becomes the linchpin in an international conspiracy involving France, Middle Eastern financiers, terrorists, and people close to Canada’s ruling elite.

Although many in the United States focus on security at the Mexican crossing, the Canadian boundary is the world’s longest border undefended militarily. Currie imagines a scenario in which this intermittently porous border allows the entry of some nefarious characters. He also considers the strategic importance of the world’s second largest country to the Arctic oil drilling regions. The intricate plotting commences with a meeting of select members of the Canadian government in Ottawa to discuss an upcoming referendum about Quebec’s secession. In reality, two such referendums have failed in previous decades. In this unspecified year, the author presupposes a third attempt by Quebec to gain sovereignty. The meeting ends abruptly when Defense Minister Andrew Fraser, accompanied by his mercurial Francophone wife, receives news of four deadly bombs exploding in apparently random sites around Montreal. Suspicion immediately falls on the separatists, known for prior acts of violence. But with no one taking credit for the attacks, and the peculiar choice of targets, Fraser and his old college friend Mark Rayberg, now on staff at the U.S. National Security Council, try to “connect the dots” as other acts of violence and mysterious incidents occur. The absorbing scenes rotate over a four-month period among Fraser and others in Ottawa and Montreal, Rayberg in Washington, D.C., the president of France and some advisers in Paris, and the Canadian Eastern Townships, which border the U.S. The tension is effectively built with the repeated references to the dates and the sense of impending violence. But the pacing is sometimes impeded by the shifting of locations and characters as well as the explanations of politics and financial dealings in Canada and France. Still, the author possesses keen insights into the affairs of state and injects both bias and humor into his characters at points, including a senior adviser to the French president observing: “The United States basically doesn’t speak anything but English, and, some would say, that none too well.”

An intriguing and effective political thriller about a complex global threat.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9966216-0-1

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Berwick Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2016

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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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