A complex tale that introduces two sleuths at the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT

A brilliant New Jersey police lieutenant hunts a megalomaniacal murderer in Graysol’s debut procedural.

A masked gunman who calls himself “Alpha” takes engineer Phil Bolton and his law professor wife, Jennifer, hostage in their home in South Orange, New Jersey. A ghostwritten newspaper editorial calls for a justice-reform protest march on Newark City Hall. A dozen masked gunmen, led by a refined villain (reminiscent of Die Hard’s Hans Gruber) who self-identifies as “Righteous,” take control of a prison. Newark cop Ted Carson must determine how these events are linked and figure out what Righteous’ horrific agenda is. Carson soon discovers that his own participation in the case was part of Righteous’ diabolical plan. The mystery of the villain’s actual identity drives this densely plotted thriller. Righteous seems to have anticipated every move that the police make against him, but he makes one crucial error—he kills Bolton, and his brilliant wife swears to avenge his death: “You played with fire, asshole,” she vows, and she forms a risky, rule-breaking partnership with Carson. “You’ve got to treat me like a deputy,” she implores the cop, so that they can work together “to catch this jerk.” Carson is on board, but will he do what needs to be done, whatever the cost? Graysol’s novel benefits from his own experience as an attorney in New York City law firms. Rather than recycle familiar tropes and clichés from countless movies and TV shows, the author instead writes with an authentic sense of how lawyers and detectives really think, as when Carson observes at one point, “Coincidences are usually clues in disguise.” Earlier, after an unproductive witness interview, Graysol has the cop reflect, “When you hit a brick wall with the storyline, scrutinize the words people choose.” Indeed, as this intricate tale unfolds, it turns out that one word, in particular, points to Righteous’ true identity—just one of many clever revelations in this satisfying mystery, which also manages to set the stage for a sequel.

A complex tale that introduces two sleuths at the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73291-670-8

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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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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