A skillfully written novel with plenty of intrigue, plot twists, and romance.

Rosyland

A NOVEL IN THREE ACTS

The need for revenge runs deep in Ingold’s (Square, 2014, etc.) latest mystery/thriller.

Elisa Gilbert, a costume designer for a repertory company, abandons her life in Oregon and heads to her childhood home in San Francisco after she catches her actor husband and his leading lady in flagrante delicto. She moves in with her mother, Ruth Bolcar, a divorced alcoholic who’s proud of her daughter’s decision to leave. Lawrence “Pug” Bolcar, Elisa’s father, is a larger-than-life attorney who enjoys the ladies and a round of poker now and then, and he’s in financial trouble following a massive loss at cards. As Elisa attempts to sort her own life out, Pug tries to avoid paying his debt and becomes entangled in a series of events involving wiretaps, seemingly vengeful Colombians, and a drug-smuggling operation. Behind the scenes stands Harold Manx, a cop who’s never recovered from the loss of his daughter to a cult nearly 10 years ago. He blames Pug, who assisted her legally, for her estrangement and sets in motion a complicated scheme to embarrass and destroy him. Although Elisa has her hands full trying to take care of her mother and deal with a potential new love interest, she gets swept up in Pug’s troubles as well. Ingold’s book has all the makings of a film noir, with plenty of booze and cigarettes, but it has a neater (and happier) ending than most stories of that genre. Most of the characters show a layer of desperation; they’re all dealing with their own troubles while unknowingly caught in the same web. Ingold’s narrative is laid out like a movie or stage play, and its shifts from scene to scene are effortless. He maintains the easy flow of each character’s separate plotline until they all tie neatly together. Glimpses of everyday life, such as Harold and his wife doing dishes or Elisa standing alone on her balcony at night, provide welcome breaks from the complicated yet compelling sting operation involving Pug and Harold. The relationship between Elisa and her handsome new man is an enjoyable addition to the mystery.

A skillfully written novel with plenty of intrigue, plot twists, and romance.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9786-9519-4

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Wolfenden

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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