GUARD OF HONOR

The chickens come home to roost when American soldiers, on a base in Dixie, are the victims of their own counterinsurgency techniques intended for Third World warfare; this latest from Kennedy (Rules of Encounter, 1992, etc.) is more preachy than suspenseful. At Fort Francis Marion, on the South Carolina/Georgia border, the Special Operations School teaches the would-be Green Berets how to lay mines, poison water, resist (and apply) torture. One of those trainees is Miguel (Mex) Cortines, whose family suffered terribly at the hands of American-trained troops in his native San Salvador. He saw his mother blown apart by a mine and his father hooked up to an electric-shock machine. Once Mex has crossed the border and entered the military, it's time for payback. He plants a grenade in the garage of the mining instructor, poisons the base water supply, and shocks the visiting Salvadoran, Colonel Maritin (the ``gentle giant'' cannot bring himself to kill him). The novel does not focus on Mex, however, until the halfway point. (The first half, as well as detailing Mex's disruptive attacks, shows us his unit on various missions in the rough terrain near the base; the unit is a standard-issue ethnic cross-section, with loyal buddies tormented by a sadistic sergeant.) Mex is arrested and court- martialed; his original prosecutor, staff judge advocate Capt. Gordon, has been so moved by his story that he switches to defense. Even the court is sympathetic, giving the prisoner a mere two years in Leavenworth; but Mex is spared even that when his buddies, with a precision timing the Rockettes would envy, spring him from captivity. There's an awful lot of filler in this poorly constructed morality tale, and Mex is too much of a lightweight for the role of avenging angel.

Pub Date: July 29, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-09292-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more