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Breathlessly violent at times, downright lyrical at others, Hunter's (Pale Horse Coming, 2002, etc.) best yet.

Fidel Castro is young and feckless, Earl Swagger is deadly and indomitable, Havana is Dodge City revisited—and as action fiction goes, it doesn't get any better than this.

There's Arkansas State Trooper Earl Swagger, Congressional Medal of Honor winner for extraordinary behavior on Iwo Jima during WWII, doing family stuff when a gaggle of suits turns up on his front porch. At its head is the Honorable Harrison J. Etheridge, breathing hard at the prospect of lubricious infidelity in Havana's famed brothels and needing an expert bodyguard to keep him safe while he goes about it. Before he can say “inuxurious,” Earl finds himself drafted and crossing the Caribbean to debark in more complex trouble than he could possibly have imagined. That's because Earl, a pearl among gunslingers, is a bit out of his depth geopolitically. Which is another way of saying he's thoroughly unaware that Cuba (1953) is about to become a serious target of opportunity in the intensifying Cold War between the USSR and the US. Case in point: that idealistic, impossibly naïve, charismatic young lawyer Castro, who the KGB sees as exploitable. And who the CIA sees as expendable—a force counterproductive to the well-being of Domino Sugar, United Fruit, and hence the best interests of the US government. So wouldn't it be great if, since he's in Cuba anyway, a person as “heroic, capable, and patriotic” as ex-sniper Swagger could see his way clear to doing something nice for his country. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) Stir the pot further with some nasty gangsta types from New York, a pair of singularly focused assassins, a highly resourceful Soviet superspy, a fella named Battista, and it's a wonder anyone gets out alive.

Breathlessly violent at times, downright lyrical at others, Hunter's (Pale Horse Coming, 2002, etc.) best yet.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-3808-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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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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