The connections, in fact, are unsurprising and anticlimactic, especially after the long buildup. But Rozan pulls off a group...

ABSENT FRIENDS

After eight mysteries mining the complicated relationship between private eyes Lydia Chin and Bill Smith (the Edgar-winning Winter and Night, 2002, etc.), Rozan makes her crossover bid with an ambitious study of a 9/11 hero’s clay feet.

First in, last out was the rule for firefighting Capt. James McCaffery, who true to his own longstanding form perished on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center while struggling to help still more of the wounded to safety. But was Jimmy McCaffery really a hero in his private life? Burned-out New York Tribune reporter Harry Randall says he wasn’t in a series of articles terminated by his plunge from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Everybody accepts the obvious explanation of suicide except Laura Stone, Harry’s protegee and lover, who vows to continue his investigation of why the McCaffery Memorial Fund, headed by Jimmy’s old friend Marian Gallagher, refused a $50,000 contribution from reputed mobster Eddie Spano, another figure from Jimmy’s childhood. After a masterfully rapid exposition, Laura’s inquiries, bolstered by dozens of moving flashbacks, move crabwise from the Trade Center bombing to focus on the 1979 shooting of Jimmy’s friend Jack Molloy by still another friend, Mark Keegan, who was killed in prison a few months after confessing, leaving behind a son who’d grow up to be a firefighter wounded on 9/11. What did the papers Harry claimed Jimmy had left behind reveal about that fatal episode, and what does the troubled past of Jimmy’s childhood circle have to do with the historic moment that revealed Jimmy as both heroic and corrupt?

The connections, in fact, are unsurprising and anticlimactic, especially after the long buildup. But Rozan pulls off a group portrait that’s both grandly scaled and painfully intimate. It’s a pleasure to see all the stuff she’s been hoarding over those ten years with her p.i. duo.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2004

ISBN: 0-385-33803-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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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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