A well-constructed mystery with a knockout surprise ending.



Edward Cohen (Israel Catfish, 2013, etc.) joins forces with his wife, debut author Kathy Cohen, for a murder mystery that centers on a troubled father-son relationship.

This New Orleans–set whodunit opens with 27-year-old playboy attorney Kyle Cameron finding the lifeless, naked body of beautiful Laura Niles lying in her bed, her blood-soaked gown on the floor. She was an attorney at Cameron & Munger, the firm co-founded by Kyle’s father, Jake. After the initial setup, the narrative jumps back two months, revealing several potential suspects. For example, Jake was having affair with Laura; when Kyle found out, he seduced the young woman himself, hoping that she’d break up with Jake (thus sparing his mother, Nola, some pain). However, Laura refused him. It also turns out that Ginger Allred, a fiery attorney at the firm and one of Jake’s former lovers, despised Laura, who replaced her on the top floor. There are also other, less-than-reputable characters in the dead woman’s past. The tension between Kyle and Jake is palpable throughout; although they’re bound together by familial love, they don’t like each other much. Jake sees Kyle as undisciplined, impetuous, and a notorious womanizer, albeit a quick study with potential; Kyle sees his dad as someone he can never please and as the cause of Nola’s unhappiness and attempted suicide. Kyle, the narrator of this twisty tale, does indeed seem to be a slave to his sexual appetites. However, the authors also make him charmingly vulnerable and self-deprecating—an affable lead that readers will likely find themselves rooting for. When Kyle receives a major case from his father, for instance, he says: “ ‘Well, thanks.’ I wasn’t sure what I was thanking him for, my job or the case. I was equally undeserving of both.” However, the authors also make sure that Kyle’s mettle as an attorney shines through in the cases he handles—particularly when he has to defend his father. The novel offers well-drawn, larger-than-life secondary characters and clever, fast-paced dialogue, which makes for an engrossing read. There are also several steamy sex scenes, depicted from a decidedly male perspective.

A well-constructed mystery with a knockout surprise ending.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72323-207-7

Page Count: 326

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2019

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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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