The novel is by no means uninteresting, but it’s pretty much Kureishi as we already know him—again.

SOMETHING TO TELL YOU

A middle-aged psychoanalyst takes stock of his overcrowded past and reluctantly confronts his many demons, in the latest from Kureishi.

Jamal Khan, whose fondest memories hearken back to swinging, newly multicultural London in the 1980s (the period observed in Kureishi’s first novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, 1990), when he partied incessantly and knew everybody, is now reaping the bitter harvest of his excesses. Estranged from his wife Josephine, despised by his curmudgeonly 12-year-old son, depressed by guilty memories of the former love of his life Ajita (and by a guilty secret involving her late father), Jamal weighs the problems and sorrows of his importunate patients against the unraveling of his own exhausted psyche—meanwhile plunging into further miscalculations and twisted relationships. The most challenging of the latter involve women: notably, his perpetually deranged sister Miriam, hell-bent on a relationship with their father’s friend Henry, a formerly eminent theater director; and Henry’s daughter Lisa, a strident social worker whose icy righteousness does not deter her from a damaging intimacy with the ever-vigilant Jamal. (These entanglements aren’t particularly interesting, except for the brilliant portrayal of Miriam, an unstable culture vulture whose appetitive energies put even Jamal’s to shame.) Though it doesn’t actually go anywhere, the novel is filled with vivid particulars, mordant wit and odd little surprises—ranging from Jamal’s serendipitous arrival at an informal meeting with Mick Jagger following a Rolling Stones concert, to a brief allusion to prosperous gay London careerist Omar Ali (the protagonist, some of us will remember, of the brilliant film My Beautiful Laundrette, developed from Kureishi’s splendid original script). Things just seem to whirl around Jamal, a stubborn survivor who is perhaps foredoomed to sleepwalk through his days and waste his nights perpetually seeking a profession, family and culture to which he can belong.

The novel is by no means uninteresting, but it’s pretty much Kureishi as we already know him—again.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7210-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

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Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping...

WITHOUT FAIL

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 6

When the newly elected Vice President’s life is threatened, the Secret Service runs to nomadic soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher (Echo Burning, 2001, etc.) in this razor-sharp update of The Day of the Jackal and In the Line of Fire that’s begging to be filmed.

Why Reacher? Because M.E. Froelich, head of the VP’s protection team, was once a colleague and lover of his late brother Joe, who’d impressed her with tales of Jack’s derring-do as an Army MP. Now Froelich and her Brooks Brothers–tailored boss Stuyvesant have been receiving a series of anonymous messages threatening the life of North Dakota Senator/Vice President–elect Brook Armstrong. Since the threats may be coming from within the Secret Service’s own ranks—if they aren’t, it’s hard to see how they’ve been getting delivered—they can’t afford an internal investigation. Hence the call to Reacher, who wastes no time in hooking up with his old friend Frances Neagley, another Army vet turned private eye, first to see whether he can figure out a way to assassinate Armstrong, then to head off whoever else is trying. It’s Reacher’s matter-of-fact gift to think of everything, from the most likely position a sniper would assume at Armstrong’s Thanksgiving visit to a homeless shelter to the telltale punctuation of one of the threats, and to pluck helpers from the tiny cast who can fill the remaining gaps because they aren’t idiots or stooges. And it’s Child’s gift to keep tightening the screws, even when nothing’s happening except the arrival of a series of unsigned letters, and to convey a sense of the blank impossibility of guarding any public figure from danger day after highly exposed day, and the dedication and heroism of the agents who take on this daunting job.

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping himself these days.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14861-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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