THICK AS THIEVES

A ho-hum heist of food stamps (food stamps?) from a midwestern printing plant erupts in a string of firecracker violence when one of the principals decides to double-cross the hired help. Mackin (no first name), the nerveless pro brought in from Kansas City to supervise the actual break-in, is mad because Pointy Williams, the local up-and-comer who set up the score, has given him a hot car for his drive to the airport and tipped off a pair of crooked cops that he's on his way out. The local law is mad because Mackin's escaped by killing both of the cops (``The worst cop killing in the city's history,'' thinks Sgt. Milos Petrone, who ain't seen nothing yet). Pointy Williams is mad because the white dude didn't get killed the way he was supposed to, and it's a cinch that he's going to be back with both barrels blazing. All the other local gangsters are mad because Mackin's thirst for revenge is bound to disrupt the smooth operation of the city's crime rings. And Malcolm Barrett, about to be released from a jail several hours away, is mad because Williams just killed his brother in an unrelated episode. When feelings run this high among an immense cast ranging from FBI types on the brink of retirement to gangland chauffeurs itching to retire their fading capos, you can be sure that a lot of somebodies are going to get killed—especially when Mackin, flushed by his success in robbing and shooting up Williams's restaurant, Ma Rainey's, while it's filled with terrified customers, decides to make it two for two with a plan to torch a Williams hot-car warehouse. Too many cooks, but Quinn's cheeky, knowing debut novel already shows some of Elmore Leonard's smooth moves. First of a series featuring the surviving players.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1995

ISBN: 0-517-70009-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

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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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