Victor Carl (Hostile Witness, 1995), defender of Philadelphia's biggest crooks, is still chasing the big score- -this time through the jungles of Belize—but he pauses long enough to explain how it turned out this way. And what an extravagant tale it is. Asked by histrionic megamillionaire pickle heiress Caroline Shaw to prove her sister Jackie didn't hang herself but was murdered, Victor agrees to pursue the case, but only as part of a contract for a wrongful- death suit that will guarantee him a fabulous percentage. Though she won't sign the contract, Caroline offers everything else, from access to her mad family rotting in a decaying mansion called Veritas—a covey of pansexuals who take turns trying to seduce Victor—to the ripe pleasures of her own tattooed, pierced, branded body. But this garden of earthly delights is overrun with snakes. There's the persistent rumor that Caroline's great-grandfather, Claudius Reddman, stole the pickle company from its founder, Elisha Poole, whose heirs have sworn vengeance. There's the discovery of generations-old skeletons in the family closets of Veritas. There's Jackie's $5 million insurance policy, which she signed over to a religious cult whose followers include a pair of transcendental mobsters eager for an earthly payoff. And there's her brother Eddie's indebtedness to a bookie who gets caught in the crossfire between two mob bosses battling for control of the city's rackets. Since Victor's secretly setting up Peter Cressi, another in his endless chain of lowlife clients, for godfather Enrico Raffaello, he ends up getting shot at, too. Amid all this preposterously inventive plotting, Lashner still finds time for cameos of a knowing gardener, a wounded doughboy, an accountant with the soul of a rabbi, a key witness who collects strangers' soiled haberdashery, and a dozen other refugees from gothic melodrama. Deliriously overstuffed extralegal intrigue—though the story moves with a self-approving gravity that suggests a serious weight problem. (First printing of 75,000; $125,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-039147-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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