In his ninth Swyteck thriller, Grippando introduces more plot threads than he can weave or develop smoothly, but he keeps...

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HEAR NO EVIL

The defense of a military wife on a murder charge places Jack Swyteck in opposition to both the US Navy and the Cuban government—and disturbs ghosts from his own past.

Recent widow Lindsey Hart implores the Miami defense attorney to defend her against charges that she murdered her husband, Oscar Pintado, an officer stationed at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay. With no experience in the military justice system and little knowledge of Cuba (even though he’s half-Cuban), Jack (Last to Die, 2003, etc.) is loath to accept the case. Lindsey, however, has an ace up her sleeve: Jack is the biological father of her adopted son Brian, who is deaf. Jack has known nothing of the boy until now. He takes the daunting case, teaming up with Lindsey’s civil attorney, Sofia Suarez, with whom he has considerable sexual sparks. Meanwhile, Oscar’s wealthy father, Alejandro, an influential stateside figure in the anti-Castro movement, has sworn to secure Lindsey’s conviction, both to get custody of Brian and to prevent Lindsey from getting her hands on Oscar’s sizable inheritance (also the purported motive for the killing). The circumstantial evidence against her is considerable, and the Navy throws up many roadblocks, like reassigning most potential witnesses so they’re out of Jack’s reach. Jack stays away from Brian but uses some of his time in Cuba probing his deceased mother’s early years, uncovering secrets surprising to him and painful to his grandmother Abuela. The trial dominates the last half of the story, with Jack facing off against flashy media celeb Hector Torres. Pivotal witness Lieutenant Dumont Johnson may or may not have been involved in an affair with Lindsey and/or be an accomplice. Drugs, an exploding car, a secret pregnancy, and a hidden past identity all figure prominently.

In his ninth Swyteck thriller, Grippando introduces more plot threads than he can weave or develop smoothly, but he keeps his tale moving.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-056457-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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