A speedily paced actioner that keeps its heroes—and readers—on their toes.




Two FBI agents go undercover to infiltrate a group of domestic terrorists planning an attack on Washington, D.C., in Windsor’s debut thriller.

The California hijacking of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives truck nearly ruins the undercover FBI operation of agents Harry Harper and Ellen King. The missing ATF vehicle, which was full of weapons, quickly becomes their top priority. Their boss, Jim Morton, gives them an assignment that calls on Ellen’s skills as a “computer wiz,” as a flood of internet bulletin-board posts seems to add up to a call to arms for antigovernment extremists. Then the FBI director is shot, and the deputy director is killed in a bombing. Meanwhile, hacker Jeff Barnett, when he’s not hiding his online activity from his parole officer, is trying to convince a weapons dealer, George Pilkin (aka “the Commander”), to partner with him to help bring the government down. Harry and Ellen, posing as father and daughter, manage to infiltrate the Commander’s group in Lake Tahoe, but rogues in the FBI threaten their investigation by launching an unsuccessful raid without warning. The Commander’s specific target isn’t initially clear, but the code name of the strike, “Torch Day,” suggests something explosive. Harry, however, has a more immediate concern when someone blows his cover. Windsor gets his novel off to a rollicking start as Ellen improvises to help undercover Harry deal with Vietnamese gangsters. The devoted partners’ relationship is always professional, without a hint of romance. There’s also plenty of dialogue, which helps to make the action scenes concise and efficient; the best of them feature Ellen, who can inflict significant damage with a flashlight. The solid, packed plot, in addition to the imminent attack, includes a villain who may recognize one of the undercover agents; a blackmail scheme; and potential trouble from Harry’s ex-boss, who swore vengeance after the agent reported his corruption. A few bad guys, particularly Barnett, are so well-developed that they’re almost as sympathetic as the protagonists.

A speedily paced actioner that keeps its heroes—and readers—on their toes.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9981310-2-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: CT Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

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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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