A swiftly paced thriller with impeccable heroes.



In this fourth installment of a series, Mossad agents face off against Islamic terrorists initiating attacks in the United States.

A group of armed men opens fire at a crowd in a Beverly Hills shopping mall. After the assailants commit suicide with shouts of “Allahu Akhbar,” the FBI calls Uri Levin and Lara Edmond. The married couple are Mossad agents, though Lara is still officially a fed as well. They cut short their vacation at Lara’s family farm in Ohio and head to Los Angeles, but the evidence they gather there unfortunately sparks no leads. Weeks later, there’s a different style of attack in New York. Unknown men have incited a traffic jam and subsequently taken over two buildings, the Federal Reserve and Chase Manhattan Bank. At the same time, someone has evidently disabled communications networks and satellite transmissions. Suspecting the attackers, like in the California shooting, are Middle Eastern, the feds once again bring in Uri and Lara. Readers are aware that Sheikh Zainal Abidin is heading the strike against America. U.S. agents believe the enemy’s objective is gold, rumored to be at the Federal Reserve but actually at Chase Manhattan Bank. But Abidin has other agendas in the works. He wants revenge against Uri and Lara, who previously foiled a plan that he was a part of years ago. But his ultimate goal, known only to a few, is stealing a rare material stored in one of the two buildings. In this thriller, Winnick (Devil in False Colors, 2016, etc.) wastes little time in showcasing the villains as well as the bulk of their simple but effective plan. For example, Abidin’s “electronics team” in Kazerun, Iran, is responsible for America’s communications shutdown while the Beverly Hills attack was really a setup for the more substantial one in Manhattan. This certainly boosts suspense, as Abidin has his eyes set on the Mossad heroes well before they identify him as a culprit. But too many characters (and narrative details) reiterate already clarified elements of the baddies’ scheme, including someone hacking communications and gold as a potential target. Luckily, this hardly slows down the story, which moves at a steady clip. The latter half entails a journey from North to South America and, later, Iran, where Uri and Lara go undercover in enemy territory. The author aptly balances the recurring protagonists’ romantic and professional lives. There’s no question the two are in love, but in the field, they’re both tenacious agents even if they aren’t working side by side. The bad guys are painted in broader colors, but they’re still an engrossing bunch, and their propensity for martyrdom makes them frightening. In keeping with the action, Winnick’s descriptions are thorough while continually propelling the narrative: “The dead and wounded had been tended to, a task that took over an hour, before any of the Federal officers realized the contents of the wooden crates had not been identified.” Winnick also adds surprises, from the (eventual) reveal of the unknown material to one character’s betrayal.

A swiftly paced thriller with impeccable heroes.

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-79093-946-6

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2019

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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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