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

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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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