A well-crafted tale that, like Thrill Girl herself, is full of intrigue.



It is anything but a typical day on the job for a seasoned reporter when two sensational cases grip Los Angeles in this debut thriller. 

During the summer of 1951, a series of four attacks on the streets of Los Angeles leaves six men dead. The victims are not random and the killer is not a deranged maniac; rather, a well-dressed blonde woman rescues innocent citizens by slaying their assailants. For Jack Curran, a reporter for the tabloid the Eyes of LA, the case is more than a hot story; it is an obsession. He gives her the nickname Thrill Girl and tracks her every move, determined to uncover her identity. His probe leads him to Alana Maxwell, a beautiful heiress caring for her partially paralyzed brother, Tomas. An attraction quickly develops between Jack and Alana as he seeks to connect her to the Thrill Girl cases. When a gruesome murder leaves residents fearful, Jack initially believes people are overreacting to an animal attack. As he delves deeper into Alana’s family, a series of shocking discoveries upends everything he thought he knew about Thrill Girl, and he wonders whether there is a connection between the two investigations. Author Curran delivers an arresting mystery and love story wrapped in an irresistible noir whose twists continue to the final page. He is particularly adept at creating dynamic and well-developed characters who provide a solid foundation for the propulsive narrative even in its most outlandish parts. The tale’s hero, Jack, a World War II veteran–turned–journalist and aspiring screenwriter, is an effective protagonist who employs some unorthodox tactics in his pursuit of Thrill Girl. He meets his match in Alana, whose guilt over her brother’s condition sends her on a spiritual quest and leads to some of the most poignant moments in the book. Setting is an important aspect of the story, and the author’s depiction of postwar Los Angeles pops with vivid details, from the lavish nightclubs and residences to the daily news cycle of the Eyes of LA.

A well-crafted tale that, like Thrill Girl herself, is full of intrigue.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73219-972-9

Page Count: 392

Publisher: La Verita Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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