A historical novel as edifying as it is exhilarating.




From the Lynch's Corner series

An espionage thriller dramatizes the risky work of the French Resistance during World War II.

Mark Lynch, an American lawyer, had already undertaken some sensitive, classified missions on behalf of the United States when he was recruited to join another organizationally amorphous group that would eventually become the Office of Strategic Services. The OSS is the country’s principal intelligence agency, originally comprised solely of Ivy League grads, many of whom had very limited military experience or none at all. Lynch is whisked away for training at Beaulieu, a finishing school in England that now teaches spycraft. Once prepared, he is sent back to the U.S. to recruit two of his own men: Ludlow Carr, a distant relative with a talent for brawling, and Marshall “Fingers” Malone, a professional burglar. Lynch is assigned some dangerous missions stateside before he’s shuttled back to Europe—he helps steal sensitive documents from the French Embassy and stops a philandering congressman from carelessly leaking classified documents to his mistress. Lynch travels to Europe, and he finally parachutes into Paris, tasked with ferreting out collaborators within the weak and compromised Vichy government. The Comet Line—an escape route established to help downed British pilots safely make it out of Belgium—is targeted by Jean-Claude Blanchard, a French traitor. The OSS orders Lynch to track down and assassinate Blanchard, a mission that takes him to Andorra, a little known country in the Pyrenees. Summers (Harold’s Speakeasy: and Other Lynch’s Corner Short Stories, 2017, etc.) once again displays his unimpeachable knowledge of World War II as well as the history of the OSS, a subject he has returned to time and time again. The plot marches forward with indefatigable vigor, brimming with action and loaded with colorful characters. And while the story has its lighthearted moments, Summers never loses sight of the historical gravity of his subject: “We’re in a fight to the death with the Nazis. They give no quarter. They kill to protect their secrets. And so must we, when we go in search of those secrets.”

A historical novel as edifying as it is exhilarating.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-977809-97-1

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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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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