Hussaini seamlessly blends compelling characters, thought-provoking situations, an impeccable discourse on Islamic history...

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THE DETOUR

THE LEGEND OF THE BOOK OF FATIMA

Manuscript-examiner Edward Fleming’s search for his missing colleague leads to Saudi Arabia—and the unveiling of deadly secrets that threaten the entire foundation of Islam—in Hussaini’s action-packed historical thriller. 

When Kimberly, an American researcher, takes her interest in Fatima, the oppressed daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, to Dr. Fayazi, she sets in motion a chain of events that range from the murder of a prominent builder, Abdul Zahra, to a worldwide Internet virus claiming to reveal the truth of the Musehaf Fatima, or Book of Fatima. From the beginning, Hussaini’s novel, in the spirit of Dan Brown, thrusts readers into a powerful murder scene. Weaving intriguing dialogue with crisp storytelling and an electric plot, Hussaini ensures that the adrenaline flow never stops. In addition to an exotic setting, the dynamic, entertaining cast of characters will keep the pages turning. Every character adds an intriguing element to the story, whether it’s Princess Safiya driving everyone around in her Bentley and Hummer, Zain’s mysterious behavior when speaking of the Musehaf Fatima, Dr. Fayazi’s fanaticism for the Musehaf, Vane’s calm demeanor and killer mentality or the partial amnesia that erases parts of Edward’s life. More importantly, the author does an exceptional job of accurately providing historical insight into a religion and a way of life that many are oblivious to and label as controversial. As each clue is unveiled in the desert landscape, readers learn about the warrior Emam Ali, the injustice done unto Fatima, the noble life of the Prophet Mohammed and perhaps the golden nuggets of wisdom that are buried within the Musehaf Fatima. The fact that the entire ordeal spans only 24 hours is a bit difficult to digest, especially because Edward and company travel from Mecca to Medina and to a host of holy Islamic sites; however, this is hardly a flaw as it only adds to the heart-wrenching pace and excitement for the reader. There are those that will kill to keep the Musehaf Fatima hidden; there are others who will die to reveal the truth of Fatima.  

Hussaini seamlessly blends compelling characters, thought-provoking situations, an impeccable discourse on Islamic history and a unique style and language to deliver an unparalleled historical thriller that will have readers anticipating his next novel, Echos of Fatima.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983902324

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Barbed Wires

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2011

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

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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