A light, entertaining read from a mystery author whose pleasure in her characters remains evident and welcome.


Deliver Us From Evil


From the Mimi Goldman Mysteries series , Vol. 3

A sports editor encounters death and duplicity in a small-town newsroom.

When Mimi Goldman returns to Chautauqua, New York, after a 16-year absence to resume her duties as sports editor for the local daily paper, she has no reason to expect that she will again be confronted by a colleague’s murder. Yet within five weeks, she discovers the body of the paper’s editor, Joe Wentworth, slumped at his desk after suffering a gunshot wound. Two suspects are arrested in his car with his stolen credit cards, and most Chautauquans consider the matter closed. But Mimi questions the police’s conclusion and launches her own investigation, setting up an elaborate ruse at the newspaper that has her posing as a law enforcement liaison. Soon she’s interviewing suspects and potential witnesses, collecting possible physical evidence from outside the crime scene, and searching through the victim’s belongings. She even enlists her adult son to do some Internet sleuthing. Her probe leads her to uncover romantic and sexual entanglements, unrequited crushes, and past commitments about which her boss and friend was scrupulously reticent. She also discovers a potential enemy from within the newspaper’s own ranks. This is Pines’ (Gone Fishin’, 2016, etc.) third Mimi Goldman outing set in Chautauqua, with the second a whimsical novelette devoid of murders. But both the first book and this one suffer from an insufficient explanation of Mimi’s motivations. The fact that the victims were dear friends doesn’t fully clarify why she willingly sacrifices safety and relationships to pursue her nebulous suspicions. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable, agreeably paced reading experience with solid character development and numerous plot twists. Mimi gains a new love interest, and her fears about navigating the romance make for some of the tale’s most emotionally resonant scenes. Other relationships are less skillfully handled, especially the sly speculation regarding a male character’s possible crush on a guy. Quirky use of colons (“the other three non-college-aged staffers: were Mimi”), outdated slang (“cig” for “cigarette”), and a character’s repeated recitations of the Lord’s Prayer in its entirety detract from the narrative’s flow. Still, Pines pays particular attention to her delightful lakeside setting, inviting readers to appreciate it through her vibrant descriptions. And though the foreshadowing is a bit clumsy, there are enough teasers and red herrings to make the ending a surprise.

A light, entertaining read from a mystery author whose pleasure in her characters remains evident and welcome.

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5148-9278-7

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

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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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