The delayed-revenge plot provides lots of corpses but little outlet for showcasing Holland’s true strengths.

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KIA

Another ambitious descent into the murky waters of crimes past and present from forensic specialist Holland.

A generation ago, an Army Status Review Board reviewed the case of Master Sergeant Jimmy Lee Tenkiller, a Choctaw supply officer missing and apparently deserted from Vietnam. The vote to pronounce the man officially dead was two to one. The dissenter, Col. Paul Fick, has always been haunted by the case for obscure reasons. Back in 1970, right around the time Jimmy Lee went AWOL, a careless mistake sent Fick, then a captain, back stateside with an injury just in time for his replacement to lead his men off to their deaths. Whether or not he was a deserter, Jimmy Lee was no innocent. As a loyal (i.e., bought and paid for) member of the Brotherhood of Five, he was funneling black-market supplies, ammunition and claymores to four officers of the South Vietnamese army and not asking too many questions about what became of the materiel—until the day he suddenly developed scruples and his life became much more interesting. What’s the connection between Jimmy Lee’s false position and Fick’s festering conscience? The question would involve nothing more pressing than ancient history if somebody hadn’t started to track down members of the Brotherhood of Five, most of them grown fat and lazy after settling in America, executed them, then scalped them. Holland calls once more on forensic anthropologist Dr. Robert (Kel) McKelvey, lab director of the Army’s Central Identification Bureau (One Drop of Blood, 2006), this time with decidedly mixed results. The constant shifts in time and place are ungainly, the dollops of service humor and service acronyms labored and the forensic revelations slow to arrive (Kel doesn’t get down to serious work until Chapter 48) and not all that revelatory.

The delayed-revenge plot provides lots of corpses but little outlet for showcasing Holland’s true strengths.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7432-8001-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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