In a sequel of sorts to his award-winning novel The Vision of Elena Silves (1990), Shakespeare again explores an explosive situation in Latin America (inspired by the Shining Path insurrection in Peru), deftly mingling love and suspense in a powerful, persuasive narrative. British journalist John Dyer, about to be reassigned when his paper opts to close its South American bureau, pursues one last, capstone interview with the elusive, all-powerful Calder¢n, the country's intelligence chief who serves as its de facto ruler. Failing in his mission, Dyer happens instead on an even more important prize: the policeman who for 12 years stalked the all- but-invisible rebel leader Ezequiel, capturing him without a shot and thereby becoming a national hero. The detective, Agust°n Rejas, has shunned the limelight, but a shared love of literature wears down his defenses, and he reluctantly begins to tell all to Dyer. Over the course of many nights Rejas retraces the full story of the capture and goes on to explain his life as well. Ever on the verge of poverty, with less and less in common with his status-conscious, lighter-skinned wife, Rejas stuck doggedly to the pursuit of his quarry, enduring long periods of frustration to accumulate clues, however slowly. Only when he met his daughter's ballet teacher, whose passion for the rituals of his native highlands stirs memories of his childhood, and found himself falling in love with her, did his world begin to seem less dreary—and then a captured videotape enabled him at last to locate Ezequiel. The capture was the culmination of his career, but it also, ironically, destroyed his new-found chance at happiness. Precisely, beautifully detailed, with a remarkable grasp of tension in a society not the writer's own: a tale both faithful to its time and utterly timeless.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-48513-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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