Not exactly a genre buster but still an enjoyable mystery best devoured immediately after Bentley’s first effort.


The Bermuda Key

A suspenseful thriller that weaves together journalistic research and fictional embellishments in a tale of a stolen religious artifact.

The priceless San Pedro cross, recovered by professional salvagers off the Bermuda coast, is stolen from the Bermuda Maritime Museum and replaced with an artfully crafted forgery. Anthony Fallon, one of the divers who originally discovered the cross, is made aware of its disappearance; a secretive group of Catholic cardinals is, as well, and its members pursue the artifact zealously for reasons that are initially obscure. After official investigations into the matter repeatedly come up empty, the matter seems closed; however, when Kat Alexander, Anthony’s diving partner, dies, an obituary photograph reveals that she’s wearing a necklace that may contain a special key—one that “opened a secret compartment in the historic Chair of St. Peter allowing access to the very first papal ring,” which belonged to St. Peter; it also may house the real cross. The church pressures Howard, Kat’s husband, to exhume her remains and retrieve the key. Meanwhile, Howard solicits Anthony’s aid in finding his daughter, Sarah, who’s lost at sea. Anthony agrees, despite their mutual dislike due to past romantic tension between Anthony and Kat. Both men wrestle with her loss while also trying to locate the real cross. This novel serves as a sequel to Bentley’s The Cross (2014), but its plot is self-sufficient enough to be read independently. That said, there are repeated references to pertinent events and relationships in the first book, so it may best be enjoyed in tandem with it. The author skillfully blends his meticulous investigative research into real-life Christian history with creative drama, turning an already fascinating story into a gripping mystery. The subplot concerning the Silenti, a cadre of furtive, conspiratorial priests apparently unrestrained by morality, is formulaic, even tired, and it’s one that will be all-too-familiar to readers of pulp thrillers; even the group’s name is saturated with melodrama. The book remains a fast-paced pleaser, though, delivering action and emotionally intelligent characterization. 

Not exactly a genre buster but still an enjoyable mystery best devoured immediately after Bentley’s first effort.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8007-2

Page Count: 348

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?