A rousing opening degenerates into a routine legal thriller.



The hunt for a code that would end the Internet as we know it pits three spunky law students against an unscrupulous FBI and vicious Chinese gangsters.

Squeaky-clean Christian thriller-writer Singer teases with a fast-moving, semi-zany opening section in which repo-man David Hoffman, working his jittery trade in Vegas, learns that he has 48 hours to locate Professor Dagan, whose Abacus Algorithm easily undoes the Internet’s most deeply imbedded security safeguards. Committed Christian Dagan planned to sell his secret to the world’s three most powerful private security firms and send his profits to churches in China, but the buyers were actually Triad gangsters who hold Hoffman’s peppy athletic wife Jessica hostage until they have their hands on that handy algorithm. Hoffman flounders for a few seconds, but comes up with a strategy in which he pledges every cent he has plus some he doesn’t to get information about Dagan from the local and well-informed community of bail bondsmen and repo-people and, within the deadline, he’s got his man. Then, in the handover of Dagan, the noble professor has to sacrifice himself to keep the Hoffmans alive. Cut to Atlanta, where the action bogs. Laser-focused third-year law student Jamie Brock and her Criminal Procedure classmates—studly, flamboyant, African-American Isaiah Washington and brilliant, nerdy, prodigy Wellington Farnsworth—have to endure the tiresome Socratic teaching methods of pudgy ex-Californian super-attorney-turned-professor Walter Snead. Snead, whose reputation is as unpleasant as his classroom manner, is also the supervisor of the legal-aid clinic where Jamie and Isaiah meet the downtrodden, including a client who doesn’t fit the usual profile when he first seeks help from Jamie and then takes it on the lam and disappears. Before you can say “witness protection program,” Jamie, Isaiah and Wellington are surrounded by bad guys, some of whom are so awful they kill a totally blameless Labrador retriever in cold blood!

A rousing opening degenerates into a routine legal thriller.

Pub Date: May 15, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-7334-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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Too beholden to sentimentality and cliché, this novel fails to establish a uniquely realized perspective.


Hunter’s debut novel tracks the experiences of her family members during the Holocaust.

Sol and Nechuma Kurc, wealthy, cultured Jews in Radom, Poland, are successful shop owners; they and their grown children live a comfortable lifestyle. But that lifestyle is no protection against the onslaught of the Holocaust, which eventually scatters the members of the Kurc family among several continents. Genek, the oldest son, is exiled with his wife to a Siberian gulag. Halina, youngest of all the children, works to protect her family alongside her resistance-fighter husband. Addy, middle child, a composer and engineer before the war breaks out, leaves Europe on one of the last passenger ships, ending up thousands of miles away. Then, too, there are Mila and Felicia, Jakob and Bella, each with their own share of struggles—pain endured, horrors witnessed. Hunter conducted extensive research after learning that her grandfather (Addy in the book) survived the Holocaust. The research shows: her novel is thorough and precise in its details. It’s less precise in its language, however, which frequently relies on cliché. “You’ll get only one shot at this,” Halina thinks, enacting a plan to save her husband. “Don’t botch it.” Later, Genek, confronting a routine bit of paperwork, must decide whether or not to hide his Jewishness. “That form is a deal breaker,” he tells himself. “It’s life and death.” And: “They are low, it seems, on good fortune. And something tells him they’ll need it.” Worse than these stale phrases, though, are the moments when Hunter’s writing is entirely inadequate for the subject matter at hand. Genek, describing the gulag, calls the nearest town “a total shitscape.” This is a low point for Hunter’s writing; elsewhere in the novel, it’s stronger. Still, the characters remain flat and unknowable, while the novel itself is predictable. At this point, more than half a century’s worth of fiction and film has been inspired by the Holocaust—a weighty and imposing tradition. Hunter, it seems, hasn’t been able to break free from her dependence on it.

Too beholden to sentimentality and cliché, this novel fails to establish a uniquely realized perspective.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-56308-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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