Sunken gold, black magic, sea monsters, a beautiful Brazilian in a bikini—what more could you want from a summer thriller?

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DARK GOLD

Thrills and chills come with shipwrecked treasure as a recent college grad searches for his missing brother on the Mexican coast.

Dan Duran is traveling the world. The last postcard he sent home is four months old and his mother fears that this time, her oldest has gotten himself killed. Not an outlandish assumption—he’s already been in foreign jails for smuggling drugs and antiquities. As a favor to Mom, brother Jack and his college buddies Duff and Rock agree to look around Puerto Vallarta for Dan. What they find is a lifetime’s worth of adventure in the space of a week. After a harrowing night at a Mexican biker bar (Jack wakes to find “Yanqui Go Home” carved into his back), they follow one final lead to Dan’s last known whereabouts, the cursed village of Punta Perdida. They hitch a ride down the coast on the Obi-man, a state-of-the-art yacht manned by two gorgeous women—Eva and Candy—and owned by the mysterious Leo Bellocheque, a Bahamian businessman with an agenda of his own. In Punta Perdida, Jack finds a deaf-mute priest who has Dan’s journal and swears Dan is dead. Piecing together clues from Dan’s notes, which include a rubbing of a gold coin Bellocheque had earlier said belonged to his great-great-grandfather, Jack demands some answers. It seems Dan had contacted Bellocheque months ago, sending the gold coin as proof of his discovery of the sunken treasure of the Argonaut. A slave ship turned gold convoy, it carried the fortune of Bellocheque’s ancestor, a freed man who was swindled and enslaved by the ship’s captain. With the gold under the yacht, the group could make quick work of the retrieval except for a few deadly obstacles: a man-eating manta ray called El Diablo Blanco, the murderous, devil-worshipping residents of Punta Perdida and speed-sniffing gangsters looking for Dan’s gold. Overwriting rears its head as many times as the manta ray: “My life was to be thrown away for these cursed lumps of ore.” But never mind, it’s all part of the campy fun of the treasure hunt.

Sunken gold, black magic, sea monsters, a beautiful Brazilian in a bikini—what more could you want from a summer thriller?

Pub Date: July 6, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-34373-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2006

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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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