More wild, violent adventures in the world of international espionage.

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Baksheesh (Bribes)

BOOK 5 OF THE SPIES LIE SERIES

In the fifth installment of the Spies Lie series, former covert operative Cassandra Sashakovich is finally ready to settle down with her family, though a plot to start World War III threatens to pull her back into danger.

At the conclusion of the fourth installment, GrayNet (2014), Cassie had barely survived being shot by an assassin determined to collect a bounty placed on her head. As she recovers both physically and mentally, Cassie, her boyfriend, Lee, and their adopted teenage daughter, Ann, plan for a new life in a new city under new identities. Hopefully, none of their old enemies—many of whom are still hungry for revenge—will find them. Cassie decides to sell her consulting agency, The Swiftshadow Group, to the Israeli mercenary Avram Shimmel and to finally put her obsession with great food to good use by opening a restaurant. Yet an obstacle arrives in the form of Amos Mastoff, the U.S. vice president who becomes president when the president-elect is assassinated the day after the election. Mastoff plans to make Christianity the sole religion in the world by wiping out Israel and the rest of the Middle East via a few well-placed suitcase nukes obtained from a Russian arms dealer. The Swiftshadow Group must utilize all of their very special skills to stop Mastoff and his cronies before they wipe out half the world. To do that, they need Cassie’s talents as a hacker. Author Kane shows no sign of running out of wild plot twists and corrupt figures out to destroy Cassie, not to mention the world. Eagle-eyed readers might spot one or two inconsistencies from the previous books, but for the most part, readers will be swept away on the tidal wave of sexy, espionage-laced prose. Ann, Cassie’s teenage daughter, remains the weak link among the large ensemble of colorful and incredibly damaged characters; she has her adopted mom’s knacks for hacking and wild sex but none of the charisma that makes the audience root for Cassie. However, Ann’s unfortunate presence is pleasantly counterbalanced by the reappearances of some seemingly forgotten central characters from the pre-Cassie books in the series.

More wild, violent adventures in the world of international espionage.

Pub Date: June 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9862321-2-1

Page Count: 316

Publisher: The Swiftshadow Group

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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