An engaging thriller about dogfighting that features two appealing heroines.

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Death by Dog

From the Special Crimes Team series , Vol. 5

The Special Crimes Team must crack a new case that soon leads to murder in this fifth installment of a series.

Walksfar (Beyond the Silence, 2016, etc.) continues chronicling the adventures of the Special Crimes Team through the story of heroine Sgt. Nita Slowater. In the previous novel in the series, Nita and her partner, intrepid reporter Dawn Samira, survived a deadly arson attack on their home in Seattle. Now, the two have moved back into their repaired house, and Nita and the other members of the crime team take on a new case when a teenage informant stumbles on a dogfighting ring. Dawn, who works for the Seattle Times, assembles a group of street teens to try to investigate the ring (“Those kids can go places and they know people that are off limits to any cop, including you, Nita”). Meanwhile, Nita and the others on her team, including her boss, Lt. Michael Williams, and computer guru Ronald Arneau, zero in on the perpetrators, who may be involved in other criminal activities, including drug trafficking and gambling. But the case gets deadlier when people who owned or purchased fighting dogs suddenly start turning up dead. When team members find themselves in danger, Nita, Dawn, and the rest of the gang must work fast to save their own lives. Walksfar has molded an enjoyable narrative here (if anything that focuses on the gruesome crime of dogfighting can be pleasurable). She crafts a story that is complicated without being incoherent, and she peppers the tale with superb, specific details about Seattle. She also focuses the novel on fully fleshed-out, complex characters. Dawn and Nita especially are captivating heroines; as a three-dimensional couple, with individual flaws but ultimately a deep love for each other, they are refreshingly realistic and give the narrative emotional substance. Not all the characters are so fully drawn, especially when it comes to the bad guys; there are too many villains who walk around spouting lines like “What the hell do you want? This is private property.” The novel also draws on elements of the previous books in the series; there are a few subplots, such as Nita’s wrestling with her Native American heritage, that are more developed in other volumes. Still, readers should be able to savor this tale on its own.

An engaging thriller about dogfighting that features two appealing heroines.

Pub Date: April 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5237-5787-9

Page Count: 394

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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