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



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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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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