Though it treads familiar terrain, this action-laden futuristic tale offers a captivating world and protagonist.

THE CLICK

In the 23rd century, a former CIA operative looks for a way to save his terminally ill grandson in this sci-fi novel.

Oliver Hitchcock, a 78-year-old retired CIA agent, is a Beater. This means he’s beaten the Click, an audible, supposedly God-willed indication that a person will soon die. There are unfortunately Preemies as well, children who prematurely hear the Click, such as Hitch’s dead 11-year-old grandson, Oliver Jr. When OJ’s younger brother, Christopher, is apparently near death, Hitch believes he can somehow save him. An internet search returns website links alluding to the idea that the Click is a fraud, but the actual sites are all down. Believing there’s validity to these claims, Hitch, with help from a CIA contact, digs deeper. Information remains scarce, but Hitch does find allies, most notably U.S. President Andrea Wainwright, who has her hands on sensitive documents from the Church. These connect to the Click as well as a lethal virus the world ultimately overcame more than a century earlier. Hitch is clearly onto something, as certain agents, including his ex-lover Janine Rousseau, are aggressively pursuing him. With little time left to save Christopher, Hitch is determined to prevent his grandson’s imminent demise. Shear (The Fountain of Youth, 2017, etc.) quickly establishes a rapid pace, beginning with someone stealing the documents and racing to hide them. While technology in the story’s future world is nothing new (Scuds are handheld devices comparable to smartphones), provocative concepts abound. For one, the largely theocratic world has outlawed abortion and birth control, resulting in overpopulation, while gay sexuality and even in vitro fertilization are also illegal. Like most great heroes, Hitch is not without his faults: His goal is admirable, but he was also with Janine while married to Edna, an affectionate mother and grandmother. Meanwhile, though the documents’ revealed content isn’t surprising, there is a shocking double cross and a kidnapping or two.

Though it treads familiar terrain, this action-laden futuristic tale offers a captivating world and protagonist.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5092-2276-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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