An exhilarating third installment of a consistently unpredictable and entertaining thriller series.



From the Jonathan Brooks series , Vol. 3

A seemingly rudimentary business deal in Ukraine turns into a fight for survival for a New Orleans attorney in this novel.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Jonathan Brooks’ law firm is all but destroyed, and his two partners are “nowhere to be found.” But he has at least one remaining client, Cramer Banks, who has a job offer for Jonathan. It’s a software-related deal in Kyiv, Ukraine; as Jonathan doesn’t know the tech, Cramer also sends his chief technology officer, Kevin Wyatt. Surprisingly, Kevin is a no-show at the meeting in Kyiv. Jonathan soon finds evidence that Kevin made it to the airport, where someone likely kidnapped him. Accordingly, Cramer asks the lawyer to track down his esteemed CTO (and keeps Jonathan on the payroll). The reason for Kevin’s abduction isn’t initially evident, but it may be his past association with a government agency. Luckily, Jonathan has help, including someone from the Romanian Embassy. But his search for Kevin ultimately puts him in the cross hairs of menacing individuals. Meanwhile, Jonathan’s beloved ex-wife, Linda Fabre, on a journalism assignment in North Korea, is in potential danger as well, and he believes those targeting him will take her for leverage. In this third volume of a series, Frieden’s (The Serpent’s Game, 2013, etc.) protagonist remains a fresh, convincing character. For example, his involvement in international espionage is believable, and his enduring love for Linda is admirable, even if she doesn’t reciprocate. The plot sometimes feels convoluted, as Jonathan tries to identify villains and motivations (though readers learn a bit more information than the attorney). But it precipitates a few memorable set pieces, particularly Jonathan and his allies in the abandoned town of Pripyat, site of the Chernobyl disaster. The author aptly describes Pripyat’s desolation, from an empty bus-stop bench to “uncut yellow-green fields.” The often intense story is rife with characters in captivity, shocking deaths, and an ending that’s sure to linger in readers’ minds.

An exhilarating third installment of a consistently unpredictable and entertaining thriller series.

Pub Date: March 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9747934-8-1

Page Count: 468

Publisher: Avendia Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2019

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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