Cobb, who knows his Navy, his gadgets, and his acronyms, is less at home with nuance. Still, in the world of...

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Cobb's fourth salty tale about ships and sailors and chasing pirates on the bounding main—in 2008.

And about how the nonpareil US Navy Captain Amanda Lee Garrett, known throughout the fleet for impeccable professionalism (Sea Strike, 1998, etc.) comes within a whisker—not hers of course—of falling fecklessly in love. As undeniably sexy as he is irrefutably unsuitable, Makara Harcoman, an Indonesian multimillionaire, whose dark eyes reflect “a defiant boldness,” and whose freebooting behavior reflects everything a career-minded “lifer” should steer leagues away from, is the object of Mandy's affection. It all begins when Starcatcher, a high-tech industrial satellite, goes lost somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago. Well, not lost exactly—heisted, actually, by cutthroats in Makara's employ. Mandy, now TACBOSS of the Sea Fighter Task Force, a formidable special missions unit, is charged with (1) retrieving Starcatcher, and (2) wiping out “the piracy cartel.” In effect, this means wiping out Makara. But when Mandy and Makara set eyes on each other, sparks fly—in such electrifying profusion that for a while stalwart Navy officer Mandy is transmuted into tempestuous, every inch a man-hungry female Mandy. Like teenagers in hormonal paroxysm, the two find it impossible to keep their libidos in check and their hands off each other. Fortunately, and in the nick, Mandy recovers her equilibrium. Ensuing, then, are furious sea battles, stirring acts of derring-do, ploys parried by counter-ploys, and though Mandy does, quite carelessly—in the interest of a useful plot twist—manage to get herself kidnapped, the end turns out to be bad news indeed for Makara and his band of bandits. Makara, however, is not only handsome, virile, and brilliant: he's also elusive. Tune in next time.

Cobb, who knows his Navy, his gadgets, and his acronyms, is less at home with nuance. Still, in the world of technothrillers, grade it a solid B.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14849-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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