A rollicking caper with a smorgasbord of kooky characters.

THE HOODLUM ARMY

In this homage to the classic Robin Hood story, two contemporary, young female robbers acquire a cult following when the public learns their thefts are committed to fulfill good intentions.

In Roderick’s rom-com/heist novel, Robin Sherwood and Maryann Forrest meet-cute when they simultaneously stick up the same bank. Maryann robs the bank to finance a “farm-slash-cooking school” for disadvantaged teens, and Robin needs money to buy her parents’ foreclosed farm at auction. After college graduation, Robin thought she’d “marry some nice girl she met at a Pride rally, take up woodworking or league soft-ball, and buy a house in some progressive suburban enclave.” But now she’s tempted to continue robbing banks by a hottie who “could be sexy even while talking through a mouth full of hot dog.” Robin crushes on Maryann even though she thinks her partner in crime probably is “straighter than a ruler.” After Maryann stencils in spray paint “DEATH 2 WALL ST. LOVE THE HOODLUM ARMY” on the wall of their second bank job, the women become underground celebrities (and Robin admonishes Maryann for not including a comma after “LOVE”). Spurred on by a fan-started Hoodlum Army Twitter account that quickly garners over 10,000 followers, the two decide to grow “our brand” by stealing not from a bank, but from a person, the notoriously slimy billionaire Larry Lemon. But the FBI is on their trail, as is police detective David Martinez, Maryann’s ex-boyfriend. Pleasures include a fast pace, entertaining dialogue, social commentary, and a certain sweetness. Plus, there’s a merry band of nontraditional characters working with Robin and Maryann to fleece Lemon, a mean, corset-wearing “fan of novelty toilets.” Word choices pleasantly surprise: An agent wears a “happy-dog smile”; David can be “ferrety” in his compulsive gnawing. Roderick weaves multiple storylines into a crazy quilt of fun with an author’s note that states: “CONTENT NOTIFICATION: racism, misogyny, xenophobia, queer antagonism, fat antagonism, trans antagonism, and appearance shaming (there is pushback against all of these). There is also minor gun violence.” And all of it wildly entertains.

A rollicking caper with a smorgasbord of kooky characters.

Pub Date: May 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73307-640-1

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Long, loose, and lax.

THE INK BLACK HEART

An overblown whodunit by Galbraith, nom de plume of one J.K. Rowling, pitting Robin Ellacott and Cormoran Strike against a murderous online troll.

On the internet, everyone can hear you scream. To boot, as a very bad actor named Anomie puts it, “nobody’s who they say they are.” Robin and Cormoran have quite the task on their hands when Edie Ledwell, a cartoonist whose show, The Ink Black Heart, is a hit on YouTube and has just been bought by Netflix, turns up to ask for help in chasing down an online group, Anomie at its helm, that has built an online game around her show. Grumbles Anomie, “She’s shitting all over the fans, saying they’re thick for liking our game.” Edie doesn’t last long; conveniently, she winds up in London’s Highgate Cemetery, ready for planting. All suspicion in what's now a murder case points to Anomie, a slippery character. Is he (or she) a criminal mastermind or just some creepy kid living in mom’s basement? It takes Robin and Cormoran reams of online chat–thick prose to discover the truth, sussing out the identities of characters with noms de net like Paperwhite and Fiendly1. Online identities are fluid, of course, which doesn’t help when the problem is how to lay down a coherent storyline, but it soon becomes apparent that, indeed, no one is quite who they say they are. One more thing is sure: Rowling, the subject of recent controversy, plays out her current preoccupations against an up-to-the-minute backdrop: Edie is accused of “multiple alleged transgressions, particularly against the disabled,” while a contemporary comes under the gun for having “ ‘misgendered’ a prominent trans woman,” minor plot points in a belabored narrative dotted with appearances by pedophiles, neo-Nazi cultists, “beta males,” incels, an obnoxious pickup artist, and a young woman who ends her sentences on a “rising inflection.” Who did the dastardly deed? After a thousand pages of this, the reader is likely to no longer care.

Long, loose, and lax.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41303-9

Page Count: 1024

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS

A hypernormal suburban family’s trip home from their daughter’s field hockey game leads them down a rabbit hole of criminal complications.

For some reason—maybe just because it’s a Mercedes—a pair of gunslingers pick court reporter Jason Bennett’s ride to carjack as he drives along a quiet road with his wife, photographer Lucinda, and their teenagers, Allison and Ethan. In the scuffle that follows, one of the carjackers is shot along with Allison, who dies in the hospital. Wait, it gets worse. A pair of FBI agents knocks on the Bennetts’ door at 3 a.m. to tell them that John Milo, the escaped carjacker, has framed Jason for the murder of his accomplice, George Veria Jr., in order to save himself from the wrath of Junior’s father, the kingpin of the George Veria Organization. Time is of the essence, the agents assure Jason and Lucinda: They have to leave their house and their old lives behind right now and go into the witness protection program. Sure enough, minutes after the three shellshocked Bennetts allow themselves to be driven off, a representative of the GVO sets fire to their house and follows up with a similar fire at Jason's office, and Lucinda’s office is vandalized. Warned off social media, the Bennetts can only watch helplessly as their friends and neighbors issue pleas for them to get in touch and self-styled “citizen detective” Bryan Krieger decides to launch his own freelance investigation, fueled by slanderous innuendo. Every time Jason thinks he’s finally got the situation figured out, Scottoline tosses in explosive new complications in the most relentless of all her mysteries.

A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53967-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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