A harmless, sprightly whodunit featuring a captivating gumshoe.

CONTINUED PURSUIT

Gripp (Pursuit of the Frog Prince, 2013), a former teacher and Florida Panhandle resident, presents the vibrant sequel to her debut mystery novel.

After skillfully foiling a malevolent kidnapping plot, amiable, “frog-eyed” detective Ben Burrows again finds himself ensuring the safety of the tony enclave of Amherst, New York. It’s Christmas night, and he’s assigned to investigate the death of Alice Beck, who has tragically fallen down the stairs in her home. Or was she pushed? Burrows immediately suspects Alice’s “cocky smart” husband, John, a smarmy stockbroker who he believes initiated a blundered kidnapping attempt on his wife some six months earlier. In that crime, local Amherst resident Peggy Roberts was mistakenly kidnapped instead of Alice by John’s confused henchmen. This time, Burrows believes John ensured the seamless murder of his wife. Gripp capably provides ample back story on the first botched crime attempt and thickens the plot as Burrows scavenges for sufficient evidence to convict John. Meanwhile, Peggy’s storyline satisfyingly continues on as she finds herself enamored with Seth, the romantically pessimistic half brother of one of her former kidnappers. As Burrows’ investigation of John intensifies with expected (and unexpected) developments, a few hard-won resolutions quell some interfamilial melodrama, and another corpse pops up, placing glamorous heiress and John’s confidante, Victoria Reynolds, in grave danger and in need of extra bodyguard protection...with romantic perks. All these events become enmeshed in the long-held animosity of two childhood friends, Cal and Sal, who were exiled to Ohio from their homes 26 years earlier for the attempted murder of one of their cousins. Sal seeks answers from Gwennie Damico, the love of his life who scorned him all those years ago; they rekindle their romance, yet both seem bent on settling the score with Sal’s family. Merging revenge, murder and steamy romance, Gripp’s narrative excels in character development but suffers from an excess of serpentine subplots. Thankfully, Gripp’s aptly named mystery is anchored by an engaging, honorable lead detective whom readers will surely find heroically endearing.

A harmless, sprightly whodunit featuring a captivating gumshoe.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0985939632

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Rachel Gripp

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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