A well-crafted, highly readable tale about a quest to destroy a counterfeit operation.



A debut thriller tells the story of a team of agents sent undercover into Iran to eliminate a major source of terrorist funding.

Retired CIA agent John Farragut has a brain tumor that will kill him in the next 18 months. But he still has enough spring in his step to capture a terrorist at LaGuardia Airport after the culprit manages to blow up half a plane—the half containing Farragut’s father. The suspect is taken into custody, where Treasury agent Mia Kelly discovers that the man was paid to commit the act using Supernotes. “The Supernote is the world’s finest counterfeit American currency,” Mia explains. “It’s printed on the same paper as real US legal tender. Same ink and same process on the same type of press. But instead of buying baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and Chevrolets, these dollars buy terrorism.” Finding the Supernotes printing facility is the holy grail for the Treasury, and Mia immediately begins putting together a team of unlikely (and sometimes unwilling) agents to sneak into Tehran and destroy it. She recruits an Iranian-American master counterfeiter, an American explosives expert serving a life sentence for murder, an Israeli spy who knows Tehran like the back of his hand, and Farragut, Mia’s longtime on-again, off-again lover. It will be an incredibly dangerous mission, but like the men she’s recruited, Mia—whose only child was killed by a drunk driver—feels she has nothing much to lose. Adam P. Gross and Seth K. Gross’ prose is vibrant and snappy, portraying a heightened reality that often feels more like an Ocean’s Eleven sequel than real life: “Alson had hired the arsonists the week before; they were former snitches who had performed similar tasks back when Alson was LAPD. The fire had to be set by pros.” Even so, the novel is an entertaining heist story wrapped in a war on terror package, taking its characters seriously even as it lets the plot pull them in pulpy directions. Without devolving into camp or melodrama, this satisfying adventure remains gripping right to the end.

A well-crafted, highly readable tale about a quest to destroy a counterfeit operation.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9984622-0-2

Page Count: 461

Publisher: East Channel Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2018

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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