More farfetched doings for Dirk Pitt, director of special projects at the National Underwater and Marine Agency—starting, circa 1989, when people start dropping horribly dead in Alaskan waters: somehow, it seems, ultrasecret Nerve Agent S has been leaking into the sea up there! ("One teaspoon will kill every living organism in four million gallons of seawater.") So Dirk and his crew head north and manage to find the source of the killer-pollution in a sunken ship. But how did the poison (stolen from a US Army dumping ground in Nevada) wind up on that ship? And why do clues aboard the sunken vessel connect to other lost mystery-ships? Those are the puzzles for Dirk, who, ignited by the Nerve Agent death of colleague Julie Mendoza (her protective suit got torn during a volcano), determines to track down the villains behind it all. But meanwhile those villains—a Fu Manchu-ish corporation headed by an aged Dragon Lady—are up to even more diabolical schemes. In cahoots with the USSR, you see, the evil Orientals have arranged for the US Prez and VP to be abducted from the Presidential yacht in the Potomac! Why? So that the Russians can give the Prez a super-brainwashing—just your basic injection of RNA into the hippocampus, plus a nifty brain implant. Before the President suddenly reappears, however, claiming to have been engaged in a super-summit meeting, Dirk has again been called into emergency action: he locates the sunken yacht, figuring out how the magical abduction was arranged. And after the thoroughly re-brained Prez behaves so weirdly that he gets impeached, there'll be still another major mission for Cussler's indefatigable hero: Dirk must find and rescue the still-missing VP before slimy Speaker of the House Alan Moran (a tool of the Oriental conspiracy) takes over the White House. The villains repeatedly try to kill Dirk; congresswoman Loren, Dirk's love, gets abducted when she tries to lend a hand; the bad guys fight among themselves; nautical, explosive rescues and showdowns proliferate. In short: more of the same from unpretentious, hard-working actioneer Cussler—with faceless characters, loopy plotting, solid techno-detail, and (this time) more than a glimmer of Yellow Peril racism.

Pub Date: May 21, 1984

ISBN: 1416516859

Page Count: 545

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1984

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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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