An often engaging cop tale that sometimes gets a bit too close to its subjects to maintain its moral grays.



Malone’s debut crime thriller looks at cops giving in to the temptation to step outside the law.

The novel’s ostensible protagonist is Jim Murphy, a new recruit to the police force in the city of Justice. Leaving behind a job managing a local auto shop, Murphy doesn’t know exactly what to expect, but he’s certain that he wants to be a part of the force more than anything. Unfortunately, this desire may not resonate with readers, due to awkward, overly explanatory prose: “He was excited about starting his new career, but apprehensive about the newness and challenging nature of it.” However, the story also uses several other cops as point-of-view characters, and their perspectives keep the novel fresh and interesting. Lowell, for example, is a capable, sardonic veteran; Nielsen has money problems that make corruption an attractive option; and Rhodes is a woman trying to break into the boys’ club. Each officer’s story serves as a reminder that the everyday reality of being a cop isn’t always easy to explain. Soon, a rising wave of gang and drug crime pushes some of the cops over the edge to take the law into their own hands. One of their own is shot and another ends up dead; add to that the yoke of excessive-force complaints and the frustration of watching gang members escape jail time, and it’s easy for readers to see why these characters choose to fight back. Throughout, the unspoken rule that cops protect their own gives the story a genuine moral complexity, as the power of the badge leads to constant temptation. Malone shows an honest reverence for both classic crime fiction and police life, and he remains admirably objective for much of the novel, neither condemning nor condoning his characters’ actions. That said, the story is perhaps too sympathetic when officers assault and even murder in the pursuit of payback: “Can I live with that? thought Murphy. Sure—no problem.

An often engaging cop tale that sometimes gets a bit too close to its subjects to maintain its moral grays.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1451596908

Page Count: 376

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2014

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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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