As one character notes of Paul’s reporting, it’s “the best kind of mystery."



The discovery and disappearance of a young woman’s body upends the interconnected lives of the Hamptons’ residents.

Kozatch’s debut novel has the same intriguing elements that made Big Little Lies a propulsive page-turner and compulsively watchable miniseries—a glamorous setting, a dead body, and the deliberately paced reveal about how it got that way. Also included are characters up and down the cultural and financial spectrum whose lives are impacted by the tragedy. The story kicks off when a lone surfer makes a disturbing discovery on the beach: “It wasn’t a rich kid’s kite. It was a girl and she was dead.” Paul Sandis, a transplanted New York City journalist who now toils on a local paper, hears about the body on his police scanner. But when he arrives at the beach to investigate, he is told there is no body and that it was just a “drill.” The truth surfaces when Paul comes across a viral photo of the victim. Paul is in the process of finalizing his divorce from Jeanine, who is not only engaged, but pregnant. Other memorably drawn characters include Merika, a Shinnecock Indian who may have seen something on the beach; Butch, Jeanine’s fiance, a financially challenged real estate developer; Will Clifford, the officer who initially called in the body; Peter Draken, a law student from a privileged and controlling family; and Maria, the victim herself, whose story unfolds posthumously in intermittent chapters. All of the characters seem to have juicy secrets or carry the burden of past indiscretions. There’s illicit drug usage, infidelity, and bigotry. Kozatch maps out the tony territory (“Main Street was now dominated by luxury brand satellites that wanted to be able to advertise ‘East Hampton’ on the side of a drawstring shopping bag”) as well as “neighborhoods you were unlikely to find on tourist postcards.” He effectively doles out information that serves to flesh out the characters. Jeanine and Butch, for example, go way back (“They were…in high school again, all eyes in the cafeteria on them”).

As one character notes of Paul’s reporting, it’s “the best kind of mystery."

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9987968-2-6

Page Count: 402

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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