THE MOONHAWKER

When ever-resilient, stubborn Atticus Gunner teams up with Butch Gorpon to uncover the mystery behind the deaths in an island community, the duo discovers that something far greater is in the works.

Atticus Gunner is offered $310,000 in addition to a 32-foot sailing sloop, the Moonhawk, as compensation for assuming the role of school administrator and police officer on Washington Island. On his way to the island, he encounters a boat full of drunkards, who later try to shoot at the Moonhawk. From his arrival on the island, Atticus has his hands full. In fact, his first full day culminates in a barroom brawl with the Cline boys, an event that foreshadows the no-nonsense attitude that Gunner will enforce throughout the story. The potential sabotage of his boat and his meeting with local psychic, Cynthia, who anoints him the warrior that will fight off the darkness, put an intriguing twist in the plot. Perhaps the book’s most compelling element is the author’s ability to weave character relationships, especially the budding friendship between Atticus and Butch, the school board president. Nevertheless, Atticus’ relationship with his two daughters, Stacie and Inger, is beautifully portrayed, particularly the scenes on the Moonhawk where readers realize that Atticus is an individual of substance—he will not let anyone harm his family or friends. As the deaths of several island boys confirm, those that harm Atticus’ family or friends will face retribution. The novel shines with engaging dialogue, seamless transitions and kinetic plot development, making the story flow smoothly. When seemingly ordinary individuals start dying in extraordinary ways, Gunner puts everything aside and dives into the situation. This attitude, despite placing him in far too many precarious situations, will undoubtedly endear him to readers. With reckless abandon, and his administrative duties in jeopardy, Gunner teams with the FBI and CIA in an attempt to reveal the true identity of the island’s so-called “good guys.” Gunner fails to realize, however, that he may have taken on more than he can handle; with a history of bloodshed, the assassins are coming for Atticus full force. Unfortunately for them, that makes little difference to Atticus. Fox fuses tantalizing action, adventure and memorable characters with nearly three decades of real-life experience to deliver an addictive page turner with blistering intensity.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462046492

Page Count: 621

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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