An engrossing novel that should earn the series a bevy of new fans.



In Holing’s (A Boatload, 2014, etc.) thriller sequel, an ex-con dabbles in his dormant criminal ways to prove that his wife’s friend is innocent of murder.

These days, reformed grifter Jack McCoul is legit, financing his startup business for an app he’s developing. So he’s understandably perturbed when former partner-in-crime Bobby shows up at his door. Bobby has his eye on Dexter Cotswold; more specifically, Dexter’s solid-gold Buddha, which Jack and Bobby once stole years ago. But when Dexter winds up dead, cops set their sights on his wife, Laura, best friend of Jack’s wife, Katie. Jack is determined to find the real killer, while he watches out for two thuggish investors pursuing his app a bit too aggressively; they may be the ones whose car tried to run down Jack and Katie. To get answers, Jack resorts to his old skills—e.g., breaking and entering. The author’s second novel featuring Jack McCoul is a proficient detective story that keeps the plot turning. Jack’s not a typical PI, but he employs his mastery to great effect; he gets help from less reputable types, like a black hat hacker, and runs a con with pal Hark to get into a private club. He’s a likable, levelheaded protagonist faced with endless hurdles. Lead homicide investigator Terry Dolan, for example, hates Jack simply because Terry is Katie’s ex-fiance, and Jack isn’t sure he can trust Bobby, especially because he disappears after the murder. The story is loaded with dishy one-liners for Jack, but even the third-person narrative gets in on the fun, noting a mysterious driver (from the night of Dexter’s murder) who may live “within honking distance.” Jack’s investigations, be they murder- or app-related, come together seamlessly, as he deals with at least one more dead body, a kidnapping, and the Mumbai mafia. Katie is a fine character, but readers unfortunately see little of the smart and strong-willed woman the story describes. She’s often a mere sidekick and at one point even complains that diligent Jack hasn’t yet managed to get Laura out of jail.

An engrossing novel that should earn the series a bevy of new fans.

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0991130146

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Jackdaw Press

Review Posted Online: June 5, 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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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.


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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