A slow-going but absorbing spy tale with a vibrant setting and characters.



In this alternate-history thriller, an unknown organization threatens the British Empire by stealing and ransoming its atomic bombs.

It’s 2006, and the British Empire has a monopoly on nuclear weaponry. Other countries are working at developing similar devices, but the empire’s biggest threat is more immediate. Someone has stolen five British atomic bombs and sent King James V a ransom note. The letter demands 10 billion pounds and claims that any effort to recover the bombs will result in detonations on British soil. It’s signed by “Raptor,” which British authorities assume is a terrorist group. The Imperial Secret Service calls on agent Mick Doyle for assistance. Unfortunately, Raptor is already targeting Doyle and other ISS agents for assassination. These attempts ultimately generate a lead—specifically, a link to a German-owned gold mine on Lihir Island, off the British territory of Papua New Guinea. Doyle and new field agent Alexandra McCall make their way to the isle, which has its share of natural dangers, including sharks and crocodiles. Although the ISS suspects mining director and German national Gustave Jäger of terrorist involvement, there’s a possibility that the Chinese government is in on it as well. Doyle, McCall, and a few allies strive to identify Raptor and/or locate the bombs before the ransom deadline. Dalzell’s (co-author: The Friends of Eddy Relish, 2019, etc.) thriller proceeds at a decidedly unhurried pace. For example, Doyle has encounters with Lihir Island’s crocodiles before he even gets to the gold mine, which essentially sidelines the primary mission. On the plus side, the slower clip allows readers to spend more time with the lively characters. Island local Nellie, for example, who helps nurse a wounded Doyle, also knows Morse code and proves to be formidable in combat. Likewise, the inevitable romance between Doyle and McCall isn’t merely window dressing, as Doyle, who’s in his mid-40s, contemplates giving up singlehood. The final act steps up the action, leading to an ending that hints at a potential sequel.

A slow-going but absorbing spy tale with a vibrant setting and characters.

Pub Date: April 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72830-869-2

Page Count: 364

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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