IN HARM'S WAY

Realistic first novel by a British chemist and bio-researcher now turned to suspense fiction, specifically a medical detective thriller. One night Tony Marchbank, a medical researcher, gets a call from his boss, Steven Hamble, who suddenly needs to see him. But as Tony drives to Hamble's house on the outskirts of London, Hamble is presumably committing suicide by driving a car filled with gasoline into the brick wall of an old barn. But was it really murder, Tony wonders? Two weeks later, the late Hamble is replaced by a new director, the nonentity Oliver Earnshaw, who tells Tony to wrap up Hamble's leftover Roughburn project quickly. The more he looks into Roughburn, however, the more Tony sees that a terrible devastation of the town's children by an epidemic of cancer in the early '50s is being covered upwith newspapers disappearing and a virus introduced into his computer wiping out three years' worth of data after Tony has gone public in the newspapers. And not only is his data lost, but an attempt on his life nearly burns him alive and he's the victim of character assassination by an old colleague. Meanwhile, Tony hopes to retain the affection of his ever-chillier wife, Margaret, a rising force in her male-dominated insurance firm. As Tony at last finds out when she abruptly leaves him, Margaret has fallen into a lesbian passion for his own research assistant, Christine Lambeth. But he and Chris push on, and they are joined by reporter Lois Love, who finds Tony's original story falling to pieces for lack of evidence. Then they discover that it was government scientists who caused the cancer epidemic and are now attacking Tony.... The lesbian subplot is as gripping as the tale's medical spine. Breeze's clichÇ-free style promises even richer harvests ahead.

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-13094-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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