Arch concept humor, deliberately paced yet weirdly discordant—exactly the sort of thing that will appeal to readers who like...

LITTLE INDISCRETIONS

A secret-hoarding caterer is frozen to death inside a wealthy client’s walk-in freezer: an English-translation debut that sounds like, but emphatically isn’t, a case for Hercule Poirot.

Nor for any other fictional detective either, since children’s author Posadas begins her story with its ending: The night peerless pastry cook Nestor Chaffino’s natural buoyancy turns to peevishness and finally terror when he finds himself locked inside the cold room at the Lilies, Ernesto Teldi’s house on the Costa del Sol. Instead of unleashing a sleuth, Posadas charts the gravely wacky incidents that led up to Nestor’s final frozen dessert and the secrets he collected along with his prized recipes. Which of them led to his murder? Was it something he knew about the checkered career of Ernesto Teldi before he settled into the safe groove of an art dealer? Or about the suicide years ago of Adela Teldi’s sister Soledad during an intimate visit to her sister and her brother-in-law? Or about the motorcycle death years before that of Eddie Trias, whose grieving sister Chloe survived to become Nestor’s unpaid kitchen hand and his waiter Carlos Garcia’s lover? Or about the incorrigible fondness Ernesto’s friend, the magistrate Serafin Tous, has for beautiful young men? Or about the clairvoyant Madame Longstaffe’s advice to Carlos about how to find his love and her prediction that Nestor didn’t have to worry about the lung cancer he was convinced would kill him? It all sounds very mysterious, but Posadas is writing a pastiche rather than a whodunit, beginning with the twist that the “little indiscretions” Nestor prizes so highly really are cooking secrets rather than his friends’ dirty laundry.

Arch concept humor, deliberately paced yet weirdly discordant—exactly the sort of thing that will appeal to readers who like that sort of thing, as half a million readers in 12 languages reportedly have so far.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-50885-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 27

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more