OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

Third, and weakest, in a legal procedural whodunit series featuring Lake Tahoe attorney Nina Reilly from the O'Shaughnessy sisters writing team. Taking up a few days after Invasion of Privacy (1996) ended, Reilly accompanies rugged but haunted prosecutor Collier Hallowell for what the two hope will be a romantic trek to the top of Mount Tallac, only to fall in with the dysfunctional de Beers family, whose presence on the mountain seems anything but recreational. A storm brews, and Hallowell and Reilly witness nasty Raymond de Beers, the president of a well-known but shoddy Lake Tahoe construction company, blown off the peak into their path and killed, seemingly by a bolt of lightning. After the unsatisfying inquest, which raises more questions than answers, Reilly recommends that Hallowell, who suspects foul play, hire her former lover p.i. Paul Von Wagoner to find whatever clues about the killing the Tahoe police could not. Meanwhile, Reilly is approached by domineering family patriarch Quentin de Beers, who also thinks that Raymond was somehow murdered. Reilly begins to believe that Raymond's death may be linked to the hit-and-run murder of a local woman. But the O'Shaughnessy team forces that intersection very awkwardly, compelling their disbelieving characters to lecture each other on Jungian synchronicities, the relationship between reality and art, and cosmic parallels to Greek myths. Before the mystery can be solved, others will die, and Reilly and the increasingly obsessed Hallowell will find themselves on opposite sides. The novel falls apart, like one of the badly constructed de Beers houses, in a cliff-hanging climax in which all the apparent bad guys are revealed to be good, and a method is offered that, in theory, would make lightning a murder weapon capable of striking the same place more than once. Forced, unconvincing characters and vastly overheated plotting, with some sharp, if predictable, courtroom scenes and an impressive knowledge of forensic pathology.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-31870-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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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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