This down-and-dirty roman noir lays on the nastiness thick- -those who aren't legally guilty of anything may as well be, since no one survives this L.A. intrigue unscathed, and everyone pays sooner or later. The narrator, Nick Gardner, a successful ad photographer with a house in Malibu and a Lamborghini, is a man with a past. Years ago, under the name Nicholas Bracken, he worked as a ``shooter,'' a cameraman for porno films. Inadvertently, he lensed a snuff film, with a victim whose identity now comes to haunt him. Cynical about advertising, women, and everything else, Nick wakes up one night after a serious bout of sex and drugs with a drop-dead gorgeous ``classic coke whore'' to discover that her decapitated body's been found in the dumpster by his house. Quickly booked, and abandoned by most of his so-called friends, Nick decides to investigate for himself, which means dredging up a past he'd rather forget. His quest takes him back into the adult film world, no longer underground now but a big business out in the Valley, where his old partner, David Rink, runs a huge operation and still holds a grudge against Nick for fleeing to Europe after their involvement in the fatal film. Things take a gruesome turn when a videotape of the murder of Nick's crackhead gal-pal arrives at his house; her executioner, it turns out, does bear a resemblance to Nick. Everything is part of an (improbably) elaborate plan to avenge Nick's involvement in that long-ago video, and when the cops re- arrest him, Nick figures that it's only right he should be punished. There's no redemption here, but just an acknowledgment that life stinks. It should come as no surprise that this trendy bit of hard-core nihilism has already been sold to the movies. (Film rights to Tri-Star)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-86272-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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