An entertaining and distinctive revenge tale.



In this debut action-thriller, a man’s ferocious search for his wife’s killer incites someone’s retaliation, putting him in grave danger.

When John Avery Malaki catches his wife, Elizabeth, in bed with his best friend, Bill, he demands they both leave the house. But the bad news keeps coming: A few days later, cops inform John that Elizabeth is dead from an apparent suicide. He’s skeptical, and the evidence agrees, eventually designating the death as murder and John as the prime suspect. But a taunting voice on his answering machine takes credit for Elizabeth’s homicide and suggests John lay low. He doesn’t comply and soon finds himself framed for another murder. John then goes on the offensive, turning the tables on and demanding answers from people suddenly trying to kill him. Using combat skills (the origins of which are unclear), he tracks down others who can direct him to Elizabeth’s murderer, with occasional help from a secret ally. It seems an organization with the acronym SOTE wants John dead, believing he’s learned too much during his corpse-riddled hunt for a killer. With both sides determined to mete out rage-fueled vengeance, the body count is bound to rise exponentially before it’s all over. Eaton’s book is rife with explicit sex scenes and violence. The sex is provocative, especially with consenting participants, but the action can be downright sadistic and lingers on the gory parts. There’s mystery as well, including murky backstories for John and Elizabeth. Though one twist is revealed early (perspective from a revenge-minded individual in SOTE), there are additional surprises, from shocking deaths to the identity of the person aiding John. The enjoyable story is unfortunately diluted by excessive blunders: misspellings (“Chlorophorm”), grammatical and punctuation errors (“Some was from both our families”; “My brothers other vehicle”), and alternating past/present tense throughout. An editor’s eye would be valuable, as beyond those mistakes lies writing that’s comical (Elizabeth’s suicide raises a “shit load of red flags”) and razor-sharp (“My anger quickly subsided, and shame walked in”).

An entertaining and distinctive revenge tale.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5462-2154-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 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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