A fast-moving story with good guys who easily earn readers’ cheers.

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KILLING GROUND

In Bowie’s (Deathsman, 2015, etc.) action-oriented thriller, an American pilot joins the fight against poachers in Africa.

Freshly unemployed corporate pilot Zeke Blades gets distressing news. Ben Stone, his flight instructor and friend, has gone missing while flying for nonprofit Global Health Resources, which is based in Africa. That’s where Zeke goes for answers, and he quickly learns that Ben had been aiding a vigilante group called the Mambas. Their goal is to take down bands of poachers who have murdered countless big animals as well as park rangers who tried to stop them. There’s a chance Ben is alive; a gang that shot down a chopper he was piloting has contacted the Mambas and demanded ransom and a halt to anti-poaching operations. Believing a jihadi named Abdul Ahad is Ben’s captor, the Mambas plot to kidnap Ahad’s brother, Muhammadu Raza, to exchange for Ben. This means capturing, not killing, Raza, who’s a poacher leader, most recently targeting elephants. Zeke, a Cherokee Indian, has a black belt in karate and willingly teams up with the Mambas. With a temporary gig at Global Health Resources giving him access to aircraft, Zeke, along with the other vigilantes, is ready to face off against armed and homicidal poachers. Bowie’s tale moves at a steady clip with sometimes-deadly confrontations. There’s suspense as well, as when it’s apparent that Raza is specifically after the “infidel pilot.” Characters such as mechanic/Mamba member DJ are easy to root for when fighting detestable villains who not only poach animals, but also help fund jihadis. Readers, however, should beware: While the story never graphically details the murder of elephants, it doesn’t shy away from the atrocities the poachers commit. Bowie’s pithy writing energizes the narrative, even when it’s simply Zeke in the cockpit: “When he had enough airspeed above a stall, he climbed into the gale, bucking and yawing wildly in the turbulence. It felt less like flying and more like bulling his way up a raging whitewater river.”

A fast-moving story with good guys who easily earn readers’ cheers.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-913179-6

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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