A slightly overlong Western, told in a confident, lively voice, that’s likely to please fans of the genre.



An inexperienced, formerly wealthy Virginian becomes one of the deadliest guns in the West in this debut novel.

As the story begins, Tucker Lightfoot Clairborne is abroad in France as his Confederate brother and father fight in the American Civil War. Following their deaths, he returns home to find that his family’s side has lost and occupies a much lower social station than before—their slaves freed, their properties less valuable. With only a few contacts, Tucker heads West and soon encounters an all-black unit of the U.S. military, which changes his perspectives on race and privilege. He befriends Sgt. Titus Herman, a recently discharged black soldier who teaches Tucker how to survive in the West. Eventually, Tucker heads through Texas on a cattle drive and finds himself appointed a constable in rough-and-tumble Abilene, where he makes a name for himself as a deadly “shootist.” The novel features sections of third-person narration along with lengthy epistolary passages, including Tucker’s journal entries and letters to his mother. Harrison plays with the difference between what’s happening and what Tucker is willing to admit—including the fact that he’s become a killer. The author develops Tucker’s sense of self particularly well, revisiting it at pivotal moments throughout the novel, as in one of Tucker’s letters: “I believe each time I took a life, there was no alternative, certainly not ‘turning the other cheek.’ I am not proud of this.” Although the lengthy novel could have done with some trimming, Harrison has an admirable sense of pacing and effectively describes the gunfights that punctuate the story. Readers hoping to luxuriate in period detail will find a lot to enjoy here, but although the author clearly has a grasp of the period, the story always comes first.

A slightly overlong Western, told in a confident, lively voice, that’s likely to please fans of the genre.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1492115847

Page Count: 690

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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