Fans of the murder-in-the-Hamptons genre, and those who hate the rich on general principles, will enjoy this propulsive read.



Memorial Day weekend explodes with violence, skulduggery, and substance abuse at a luxurious waterfront estate.

Allen's author bio tells us he grew up in the Hamptons working for the rich folks, and his memories supply this debut novel with physical verisimilitude and boiling emotional energy. Gina Halpern and her teenage son, Corey, are both employed at the estate of the Sheffield family, she as their longtime head housekeeper, he as a porter, pool boy, and extra pair of hands during the hundred days of the summer season. Gina has gotten good at dulling her rage with cheap wine, prescription drugs, and a masochistic relationship with her horrible husband, but Corey's "Yes, sirs" and "No, ma'ams" are no more than a thin veneer of toadying over a socio-economic fury that has already led to a secret life of vandalism. The environmentally friendly cleaning products favored by Sheila Sheffield—"a post-menopausal woman with the short-cropped haircut of a little boy" and "the personality of a rooster"—are an ironic complement to the caustic attitude of he who sprays them. The novel blasts off the Thursday before Memorial Day with several early arrivals at the estate. Daughter Tiffany Sheffield and her best friend, Angelique, are home from college and plan to get the party started on their own. Little do they know that Corey is creeping around the roof and Tiffany's father has come out in a limo for a last hurrah with his very much younger boyfriend, just released from the psych ward after an attempted suicide. So much booze, cocaine, and pills are ingested in the first few chapters that Friday morning begins with a trip to an AA meeting, which only slows things down a little. There's nothing profound or unpredictable about any of this, but what is remarkable is the author's brio in causing and compounding ever more outrageous disasters. Watch out, entitled pigs with your boring conversations and your unseasonable, bright white sweaters draped over your shoulders. This is revenge.

Fans of the murder-in-the-Hamptons genre, and those who hate the rich on general principles, will enjoy this propulsive read.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0839-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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