Downbeat, pungent slice of crooked-cop life, circa 1977 Chicago—and a rare nonseries outing for Campbell (the Jimmy Flannery novels: In a Pig's Eye, etc.; the Whistler novels: Sweet La-La Land, etc.). Sergeant Ray Sharkey is an archetypally bent cop—16 years on the force, ``his innocence...lost and gone forever,'' a savvy Irish loner protecting his many crooked deals by knowing how to show local pols a good time: ``the City Hall Pimp,'' he's called behind his back. But time's running out on Ray. A mayoral election is approaching, and the likely winner, known here only as ``the Candidate,'' thinks Ray will make the perfect target for an anticorruption campaign. And Ray's personal life is headed for the rocks, too—his cancer-stricken wife, whose medical bills drove him on the pad years ago, is near death; his redheaded beauty of a sister, Wilda, whose body he secretly craves, is breaking all the rules by hanging out with black musicians; and he himself, a racist born and bred, has tumbled into a nightmare of lust by falling for Roma Chounard, a black whore loaned him by top pimp Jasper Tourette. Still, as always, Ray needs money and can't resist a $5,000 payoff to get his brother, a judge, to throw a case—even though Ray knows that the deal's a sting orchestrated by the Candidate. And then there's the corpse found beaten to death in a fleabag hotel, with clues pointing toward Tourette and maybe even the Candidate himself. Using all his street smarts, Ray finesses the payoff and solves the murder, but he can't beat his own forbidden yearnings for Roma and his sister, which push him into an acts of cruelty and vengeance that finally bring the law crashing down on him. Tough-minded and authentic, but lacking the charm and mordancy of Campbell's series work; anyway, Joseph Wambaugh and Stephen Solomita, among others, have tracked this kind of dinosaur cop before.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-70319-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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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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