An unequivocal series highlight with a laudable blend of action and mystery.

JACK FROST

From the A Detective Jack Stratton Novel series

Investigating a reality TV show that’s facing threats and accidents, PI Jack Stratton finds himself snowbound with a murderer in the continuation of Greyson’s (The Girl Who Lived, 2017, etc.) thriller series.

Ex-cop Jack and his fiancee, Alice, jump at the chance to do investigative work for McAlister Insurance. The undercover gig involves the reality competition show Planet Survival, which lost a crew member in an avalanche last year and more recently received a note threatening other crew members’ lives. There’s no discernible connection between these events, but the insurance company wants Jack and Alice to ensure they’re unrelated. Producer Leah Coleman, however, wants Jack to travel solo to Mount Minuit with the cast and crew. Alice isn’t happy about Jack going alone, but she can look into the alleged accident at home, and there’s no Wi-Fi or cell service on the mountain. Moreover, she has a lot on her plate. She asks Kiku Inuzuka, a dangerous but dependable female yakuza (Japanese mobster), to help track down the man. On Mount Minuit, Jack poses as the crew’s gofer, enduring bully/cameraman Ollie and the show’s insufferable host, Gavin Maddox. But a menace looms: someone is leaving more threatening messages and sabotaging gear. Aggravating their troubles is a blizzard, which makes it exceedingly difficult to search for the people who go missing, some of whom later turn up dead. While Greyson’s preceding installment was a breezy mystery, this one significantly cranks up the action. The crew, for one, has avalanche charges, which can control when a potential snowslide will occur and likewise pose a constant threat with a killer on the loose. The author fills the pages with atmosphere befitting the turbulent blizzard, including Jack discovering unknown footprints in the snow or short-roped with contestant Chiri during a particularly furious wind. At the same time, there’s a sturdy whodunit running throughout: as Jack struggles to keep himself and others alive, Alice is unraveling the bizarre circumstances of a crew member’s avalanche death. She inches closer to a killer’s identity, which is not immediately revealed to readers. Adding to the already dense mystery is Kiku’s advancing manhunt. The ragtag crew generates myriad murder suspects but also provides fodder for a biting critique of reality shows. The magic of television, for example, presents one individual as wholly capable when the opposite is true. And while Jack, as gofer, incurs blame for most on-set mishaps, the former military man could theoretically be a contestant, using his skills to survive severe weather and a nameless murderer. There are shades of humor, though it’s mostly dark. Perhaps the best moment is Jack assuring everyone he’s not the killer by pointing out that he could—but hasn’t—killed every person in the room.

An unequivocal series highlight with a laudable blend of action and mystery.

Pub Date: April 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68399-083-3

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Greyson Media Associates

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 39

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