An action-packed but overwrought and proselytizing real estate tale.



A debut novelistic dramatization focuses on a community’s battle to halt aggressive gentrification.

Jack Cade serves as a staff sergeant in Iraq, training Iraqi soldiers to detect and disarm improvised explosive devices. After a blast kills seven Iraqi servicemen—a tragedy for which he blames himself—Cade strikes an officer in anger and is ignominiously court-martialed. He returns to Virginia and becomes a cab driver, but his life devolves into alcohol-besotted disaster and his wife leaves him. Cade learns that a real estate conglomerate—Urban Renaissance Partners—plans to build a luxury urban village in Glebe Valley. This high-cost housing will predictably displace most of the residents, many of whom are Hispanic, from Chapelita, his own neighborhood. Luis Guzmán, Cade’s friend and manager of the Chapelita Community Center, introduces him to Rita Castro, a lawyer who opposes gentrification, calling it “economic eviction.” Cade organizes the Chapelita Coalition for Justice, a group dedicated to thwarting URP’s designs. But URP has no intention of fading quietly into the night—Mick Finn, the conglomerate’s senior vice president of development, strikes a deal with the savagely murderous gang Brothers of Blood to silence Cade. Sheehy constructs an intricate plot centered on the issue of gentrification as social injustice, and includes considerable discussion of the evils of capitalism, spatial inequality, and tenants’ rights as well as the plight of 20th-century rebellions in El Salvador and Cuba. Cade is a gripping and sympathetic protagonist, despite being a formulaic one—the traumatized cynic who is begrudgingly lured into fighting on the side of the downtrodden. The writing is clear, though occasionally misfires—Cade’s cab is described as “splendiferous”—and the plot dashes to a violent conclusion with frenetic velocity. But the story is overly cramped with a surfeit of subplots, which turn out to be more distracting than thrilling; for example, one that chronicles Luis’ service in a Salvadoran death squad is so melodramatic (and shopworn) that it almost becomes comic. Finally, readers in search of a nuanced literary rendering of gentrification in all its complexity will likely be disappointed—advocates of the process are consistently depicted as cartoon villains.

An action-packed but overwrought and proselytizing real estate tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2018


Page Count: 326

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?