A swift, rousing, and first-rate detective series launch.

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V.E.N.O.M.

IN VENENUM POTENTIA

From the V.E.N.O.M. series , Vol. 1

A New York cop and recovering alcoholic works a murder case that stirs up a defunct organization of mercenaries and assassins in this debut novel.

More than a year after losing his wife and daughter, Brooklyn Detective Jake Penny is fighting to stay sober. So his boss, Lt. Trent Simons, sends him to upstate New York on a “low-threat task.” It’s the scene of a double homicide along with missing, presumably abducted children, but Jake’s job is to support the local police department. Yet once there, he discovers a hidden stash of money and passports. Now Jake has the attention of National Security Agency agent Ethan Parker, who informs the detective that Wei Pei, one of the deceased, is actually Liang Do Shen. He was the former leader of Veiled and Exclusive Nation of Organized Mercenaries and had been safely hiding in America with, allegedly, collateral. The news of the collateral and its likely location, Parker claims, is sure to bring out highly skilled and deadly ex-members of V.E.N.O.M. Parker and Jake work together to stop the group while the detective gets assistance from Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Zasha Avery, who’s itching for an exclusive. But as the inquiry deepens, Jake may have trouble trusting anyone. Mitchell’s series opener is filled with action scenes and, accordingly, moves at a steady clip. Still, there’s ample mystery brewing, from how Jake’s wife and daughter died to what exactly Liang’s collateral was. Though sequences of explosions and fisticuffs are exhilarating, the author doesn’t stylize them. They’re often quite brutal, and one scene in particular features a startling turn that puts the violence in perspective—for readers as well as the characters. Mitchell astutely plays with character expectations; at least one mercenary doesn’t seem villainous, and reputed good guys aren’t so wholesome. As the sole female representative, Zasha is formidable, intelligent, and only gets better as the narrative progresses. Despite a few predictable plot twists, the story offers numerous surprises and a sublime setup for Book 2.

A swift, rousing, and first-rate detective series launch.

Pub Date: April 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73354-360-6

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Red Rope Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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