WHEN SHE WAS BAD

Indiana Jones meets the Dragon Lady in this knockabout tale of rolling stone Dan Stark and his now-and-then, 20-year adventures with the evil, evil Chantal d`Auberon. It's 1972, and Stark's a reporter for the Florida Key Times who's sent out to interview Christine Terry, survivor of a Caribbean yacht wreck that left her husband dead and her drifting on a lifeboat for 19 days. But there were stolen emeralds aboard that yacht, she whispers to him, and together they slip off to retrieve them. Stark thinks it's all too easy, and he's right: Christine isn't Christine, of course, but Chantal, and abandoning Stark while she runs off with the swag is only Act One of a long- running matinee serial. Years pass before Stark, disguised as a coke dealer, gets his chance for revenge. And no sooner has he gotten it than Chantal's after him again, nearly killing him before getting sent up on drug charges that leave her in prison for more short years (a few paragraphs) before she's ready for still another crack at Stark, now run through a successful business and ripe for further treachery. A stint as a beach bum, a new career as a campground owner and sometime author—Chantal (next seen as the Comtesse de Villiers, the queen bee of Puerto Vallarta) can ruin Stark and leave him for dead, but she can't leave any marks; and in the meantime (by now it's 1990), he's made contact with Chantal's daughter Gabrielle, who may or may not be his daughter too. Following in the footsteps of James M. Cain but without Cain's bile, Faust (In the Forest of the Night, 1993) makes Stark's whole life a pleasant afternoon at the Bijou. As for Chantal, ``she was a viper.'' ($75,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: April 14, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-85164-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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