A commendable thriller that makes its medical science riveting and exhilarating.




From the McBride Trilogy series , Vol. 2

In Van Anderson’s (The Organ Takers, 2014, etc.) second series entry, Dr. David McBride evades police and a crazed Russian spy while trying to save a kidney patient’s life.

David is wanted by the New York City police after exacting revenge on the man responsible for his pregnant wife’s death. Another man, a rogue government agent known as “Mr. White,” previously blackmailed David into a scheme involving black market organs. White’s 26-year-old daughter, Heather, is currently dying from renal disease and needs a kidney transplant. He wants David to continue a dead surgeon’s research which involved growing new human organs from stem cells. In return, White claims that he can get David’s father, who’s suffering from dementia, better treatment. Unfortunately, Mikhail Petrovsky, formerly of Russia’s Federal Security Service, is also after the research, and he’s willing to resort to violent means in his mission to obtain a series of pertinent notebooks. He and his thugs target several people, including a biochemist who may have hidden the most essential notebook away. David and White race to protect those in danger and secure the research before the Russians do. This, of course, puts both of them in the line of fire—and the cops are still on David’s trail as well. The second installment of Van Anderson’s series ably expands on the previous installment’s story. Some new particulars regarding the enigmatic White, for example, make him a stronger, more intriguing character; for instance, the spy turns out to be better at surveillance than hand-to-hand combat, and as a result, he’s just as vulnerable as David is. The energetic narrative keeps its edge with a constant sense of threat: Heather has a limited amount of time left to live, and the cops and Russians pursuing David are sometimes a step ahead of him. As in the previous series entry, there’s plenty of medical terminology, but it’s generally comprehensible, as David explains much of it to White. Van Anderson also offers striking details, as when David vividly describes a gruesome wound that he suffered during the events of the last book.

A commendable thriller that makes its medical science riveting and exhilarating.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9907597-3-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: White Light Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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