HONOR AMONG THIEVES

It's Amateur Night on the international intrigue stage, as perennial bestseller Archer (As the Crow Flies, etc.) shows Saddam Hussein's henchmen grooming an actor to take the place of the President so that they can—push the button that starts WW III? Plant a bomb that will destroy both chambers of Congress? No, steal the Declaration of Independence! Actually, the actor, one Lloyd Adams, is much less important than his support staff: Tony Cavalli, the unscrupulous, well-connected lawyer whose off-the-books ``Skills'' department takes on the assignment of switching the Declaration for a copy that will remain in the Archives until Saddam publicly burns the original on July 4, bringing Bill Clinton to his knees; T. Hamilton McKenzie, the Nobelist in plastic surgery (!) whose daughter is kidnapped to encourage him to rearrange Adams's face; William O'Reilly (``Dollar Bill''), nonpareil forger who copies the Declaration exactly and throws in a few near- copies for good measure; Johnny Sciasatore, distinguished director whose fake movie motorcade of the President helps get the imposter into the Archives; and a contract killer in Laura Ashley dresses who goes around mopping up the rest of the staff. The Skills crew gets the goods, of course, and then the ``Mission: Impossible'' scenario is reversed, as Scott Bradley, a Yale Law prof and CIA hanger-on, joins rookie Mossad agent Hannah Kopec (who already thinks she's killed Scott when his earlier cover as Mossad contact ``Simon Rosenthal'' was blown: don't ask) and a giant, custom-made safe named Madame Bertha to sneak the Declaration back out of Baghdad. With all those copies and all those agents plotting at cross-purposes, you just know there are going to be multiple switches and surprises, but instead of generating suspense, they just add to the general air of genial preposterousness. Undeniably entertaining, if you can get into the spirit of farcical and inconsequential melodrama. Maps of the Washington motorcade route and the Mideast—just in case you have any questions. (First printing of 500,000)

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-017945-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1993

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JURASSIC PARK

Genetically engineered dinosaurs run amok in Crichton's new, vastly entertaining science thriller. From the introduction alone—a classically Crichton-clear discussion of the implications of biotechnological research—it's evident that the Harvard M.D. has bounced back from the science-fantasy silliness of Sphere (1987) for another taut reworking of the Frankenstein theme, as in The Andromeda Strain and The Terminal Man. Here, Dr. Frankenstein is aging billionaire John Hammond, whose monster is a manmade ecosystem based on a Costa Rican island. Designed as the world's ultimate theme park, the ecosystem boasts climate and flora of the Jurassic Age and—most spectacularly—15 varieties of dinosaurs, created by elaborate genetic engineering that Crichton explains in fascinating detail, rich with dino-lore and complete with graphics. Into the park, for a safety check before its opening, comes the novel's band of characters—who, though well drawn, double as symbolic types in this unsubtle morality play. Among them are hero Alan Grant, noble paleontologist; Hammond, venal and obsessed; amoral dino-designer Henry Wu; Hammond's two innocent grandchildren; and mathematician Ian Malcolm, who in long diatribes serves as Crichton's mouthpiece to lament the folly of science. Upon arrival, the visitors tour the park; meanwhile, an industrial spy steals some dino embryos by shutting down the island's power—and its security grid, allowing the beasts to run loose. The bulk of the remaining narrative consists of dinos—ferocious T. Rex's, voracious velociraptors, venom-spitting dilophosaurs—stalking, ripping, and eating the cast in fast, furious, and suspenseful set-pieces as the ecosystem spins apart. And can Grant prevent the dinos from escaping to the mainland to create unchecked havoc? Though intrusive, the moralizing rarely slows this tornado-paced tale, a slick package of info-thrills that's Crichton's most clever since Congo (1980)—and easily the most exciting dinosaur novel ever written. A sure-fire best-seller.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 1990

ISBN: 0394588169

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1990

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Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her...

DISTANT SHORES

Another middle-aged mom in a muddle.

After years of false starts and big hopes, Elizabeth’s ruggedly handsome husband Jack, a former football star, just landed a spot as a sportscaster on national news. He still loves her, even though much younger women are giving him come-hither looks. Heck, he doesn’t want to betray the love of his life after she helped him kick drugs and stuck by him even when he was a struggling has-been. And won’t it seem hypocritical if he fools around with his sexy assistant while he does in-depth reporting on a rape case involving a famous basketball center? Well, he fools around anyway. Elizabeth, nicknamed Birdie, knows nothing of this, but she withdraws from Jack when her hard-drinking, salt-of-the-earth father has a stroke and dies. Now no one will call her “sugar beet” ever again. Time to return home to Tennessee and contend with Anita, the sort-of-evil stepmother so trashy she wears pink puffy slippers all day long. Naturally, it turns out that Anita actually has a heart of gold and knows a few things about Birdie’s dead mother that were hushed up for years. Mom was an artist, just like Birdie, and an old scandal comes to light as Anita unrolls a vibrant canvas that portrays her secret lover. Perhaps, Birdie muses, her mother died of heartbreak, never having followed her true love or developed her talent. Has she, too, compromised everything she holds dear? Hoping to find out, Birdie joins a support group that promises to reconnect confused women with their passion. She and Jack separate, prompting a how-dare-you fit from their grown daughters. Will Birdie fly her empty nest? Will she go back to college for a degree in art? Will her brooding watercolors ever sell?

Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her previous tales (Summer Island, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-45071-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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