A promising start to what could be a fresh paranormal-crime series, if plotting and characterization improve.



A crime novel set in the Colorado backcountry, mixing gritty suspense, supernatural horror, and Native American folklore.

Two hikers discover pieces of a dead body strewn around a snow-swept trail near the tourist town of Deadraven, Colorado. A disabled veteran nicknamed Radio monitors the report from his mountain cabin on a police scanner, except he learns about the grisly find before it actually happens. Logan Lone Bear Tuu’awta, newly returned to his hometown and interning with the local police, discovers the tracks of a large bear at the crime scene. He can also sense something else—a supernatural presence tied to his past. With this mix of horror, mystery, and the unexplained, Clark (The Devolution Chronicles: Rise of the Chimera, 2011, etc.) builds an intriguing setup and a diverse cast of characters. The bodies soon start piling up, with Radio providing Logan advance notice of new deaths. Along with his childhood friend Raven and Sheriff Billie Sue Martin, Logan must unravel the complicated mystery and track down the man-eating bear, which might be an invader from the spirit world. However, as the mystery progresses, the plot begins to get muddy. “Believe, and then you will see,” Ten Bears, a Medicine Man, tells Logan. But for readers unfamiliar with Native American mythology, additional explanation is needed to believe in Logan’s spiritual powers, which guide him in solving the mystery. Deeper, more developed back story early on would flesh out these intriguing characters as well. For example, what exactly happened to Logan in the 10 years he’s been gone from his hometown, and why did he decide to return? What in the sheriff’s checkered past has put her under the thumb of town leaders? And the climactic confrontation with the bear seems to come too soon. Without more information about past events, it’s difficult to make sense of Logan’s dreamlike confrontation with the bear. The extended explanation that follows deflates the fight scene’s action-packed punch.

A promising start to what could be a fresh paranormal-crime series, if plotting and characterization improve.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0985343859

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 9, 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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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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