A solid, entertaining, and unnerving series ending.

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ANGEL PARK

From the The Park Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Sacramento detectives inch closer to a serial killer—or killers—in the conclusion to Booth’s (Crimson Park, 2016, etc.) mystery trilogy.

The On-going Investigation Division handles cold cases for Sacramento PD. The current case for detectives Jake Steiner and Stan Wyld and assistant Mallory Dimante is a missing person. Or it was until they find the mutilated remains of the missing movie producer, along with someone else’s. As the investigation progresses, OID links at least one individual to the producer and Olive Park, an earlier cold case. Said individual threatens one of the detectives, and Mallory, after watching footage of the incident, determines the assailant had demanded a bear. This must be a teddy bear belonging to 7-year-old Jessie Cooper, but she and her older brother, Michael, both also connected to Olive Park, ran away from Child Protective Services. There is, however, a deeper mystery. The car in which cops found the bodies contains a fingerprint belonging to Anna Chase, an 11-year-old in New Jersey. As OID struggles to make sense out of the evidence, the trio learns of another related murder and adds people to their growing suspect list. Behind the murders lies a sinister scheme that will put at least one OID member in danger. Reading Booth’s trilogy from the beginning is a necessity. While the third installment incorporates the occasional recap, plot twists, characters’ surprise returns, and deaths are more shocking with knowledge of Books 1 and 2. The author tidily wraps up the convoluted story, most of it stemming from the preceding installments, by tying off loose ends and providing clear motivations. The murder mystery takes precedence, but nuanced relationships are a bonus, from Michael’s protecting Jessie to a possible romance between Jake and Mallory. Much of the book is unsettling. Corresponding atmospheric scenes include searching a small passageway with an odor that hits the back of Mallory’s throat, “like biting on aluminum foil, with a bouquet of rust.”

A solid, entertaining, and unnerving series ending.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9838329-3-5

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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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

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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