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A PERFECT CONFLUENCE

An inventive but bumpy redemption tale.

In this novel, a young man’s grave mistake forces him into a dangerous adventure that heals him in unexpected ways.

Noah—a recovering addict living in Buffalo, New York—has finally gotten the hang of sober living. He is gainfully employed, complying with probation requirements and exercising regularly with his faithful dog, Kimo. But just as he settles into this routine, his Uncle Bob—an imposing, ex-military caregiver figure who took over after Noah’s parents died in a car crash when he was 14 years old—requests a meeting. Bob confronts Noah for unwittingly impregnating a local Mafia family member, Lizzie Guerro. Bob insists that Noah’s only option—outside of being brutally exterminated by the Guerro family—is to “do the right thing” and marry Lizzie. Noah, devastated by the prospect of ruining his life, relapses and—while massively drunk—does something gravely impulsive that deepens his conflict with the notoriously violent Guerro family. With this, the option of marrying Lizzie becomes obliterated and Noah decides to skip town by canoe (the only way he believes he can leave surreptitiously) and keep paddling until he finds somewhere he can safely begin anew. Along the way, Noah meets 17-year-old Becca, a pregnant young woman on the run from an equally serious set of troubles. From here, the two become unlikely fugitive travel companions who encounter terrors and delights along a river odyssey that changes their lives in surprising ways. Bridgford (Where Eagles Dare Not Perch, 2018, etc.) demonstrates skillfulness when it comes to rendering suspense and twisting a scintillating plot. He also supports his creative storyline with appreciable outdoorsman knowledge, which vivifies the prose nicely throughout. That said, the canoe journey takes up the majority of the book and, after the first few chapters, begins to read as somewhat droning and repetitive. Further, some stock side characters become distracting while the dialogue—especially between male players—tends to read as tiresomely quippy. Early on, one of Noah’s pals tells him: “Make the wrong choice, my friend, and they’re gonna come at you like no shit-storm you’ve ever experienced.” Noah responds: “What if I wore my raincoat and used my big golf umbrella?”  

An inventive but bumpy redemption tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68433-332-5

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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