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Dear Mr. Munson: What a bright idea: an epistolary thriller, telling through letters, faxes, E-mail, phone messages, etc., how a TV anchorwoman is stalked by a homicidal fan self-dubbed ``The Watcher.'' And so timely, too, with the epistolary Griffin & Sabine cruising bestseller lists. But what a shame that, beneath the packaging, the substance of your tale—unlike that of your Nothing Human (1991)—is only yesterday's mail. The story starts promisingly: A fax from talent agent Dan Saturn to client Joan Carpenter, telling her that his meeting with the chief of St. Louis's KMIS-TV went well; a memo from the KMIS chief to the station's news head, alerting him that Joan's a good bet to coanchor the 20/20-styled show Nightbeat; a phone message from Joan to Dan asking him to ``get me that job!'' It's fun to read these word-bites—nicely varied in length, voice, and tone— and to watch the novel assemble like a jigsaw puzzle. We're glad when Joan gets the job; we feel for her when ratings sag because the news head treats her like a bimbo; we worry when she gets her first, sexually tinged letter from The Watcher. Modest suspense is generated as The Watcher's letters and then actions turn ominous, as he—or she?—sends the ratings soaring by first castrating a critic who panned Nightbeat, then by killing Joan's coanchor. But this all comes to little: The premise of a crazed fan, nothing new (cf. Bob Randall's The Fan, 1977), wears thin, and, though several suspects are perfunctorily set up—a gardener; two of Joan's suitors; a real-estate agent—there's no surprise when, in a flat scene, The Watcher is finally revealed, since one suspect is as good as the next. Overall, then, better in premise than in delivery. We like the chances you've taken with form, though, and we wish you success with your next and awaited novel.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93624-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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