Promising but affectless: a crime novel that sprints quickly into nowhere.



Cross-border action debut flares brightly but fades fast.

As an almost preternaturally skilled and efficient Mexican arms dealer and general badass, Santos de la O is hardly your typical gay protagonist. When we first meet him, Santos is putting together a deal to sell some über-sophisticated weaponry to kingpins from the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez cartel. Santos makes a mint off the deal and hopes to use the money to sweep himself and his new young lover, Tony, off to a happier life. Before that can happen, however, Tony gets gunned down in a hate crime, and Santos’ thoughts turn to revenge. To turn up the heat even more, Conner (who, we’re told, has “experience with and knowledge of sophisticated weaponry”) throws in the assassination of a DEA official by the same cartel boys Santos sold the weapons to, which puts Santos on the lam from both sides of the law. It also turns out that Tony’s killing wasn’t entirely random; in fact, the men behind it were part of a creepy organization of cops, servicemen, and militia types who like to hunt gays. Santos puts his talents for cold cruelty to work and sets about hunting down those who killed his lover. In the meantime, of course, this doesn’t prevent him from shacking up with young Fernando. All the right materials are here for an excellent thriller, but Conner’s amateurish hand betrays him. By throwing so much into the mix and connecting it all with so thin a skein of plot, he negates much of the impact a high-velocity story like this might normally cause.

Promising but affectless: a crime novel that sprints quickly into nowhere.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-55583-695-X

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Alyson

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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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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