An enjoyable, action-packed crime tale with strong language.

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MIAMI MOON

A JOSE CASTILLO MYSTERY

A wisecracking sleuth explores dangerous happenings in Miami in this second installment of a mystery series.

Jose Castillo, a luxury car repairman, moonlights as a private investigator. Usually, his cases involve minor infractions such as personal injury incidents or infidelity. He goes on stakeouts in his van equipped with the latest spy technology courtesy of his computer wiz pal, Jim Gafford. Jose is hired by Lesson, a strip club security guard who fears for his safety. After Lesson overhears strange rumblings from his Russian boss, Volkov, his house is mysteriously firebombed. Turns out, Volkov has been on the police radar for years and Jose steps in to uncover what is going on. When Jose learns that Volkov is part of the Russian mafia, he enlists the help of old military friends Chris and Chini. Jose uses out-of-the-box, risky measures in his work (for example, kidnapping and drugging a potential informant). Soon, Jose is targeted by Volkov’s gang and must wrangle himself—and his loved ones, including his fiancee, Kat—out of trouble. Meanwhile, Miami police are on the hunt for a killer targeting sex workers. After investigative reporter Lola Sanchez is murdered by the culprit while working undercover, Jose joins his best friend, Homicide Detective Nate Devine, in the search for the serial killer. Goyanes (Miami Beat, 2012) often includes captivating descriptions, many focusing on Jose’s car restorations, local Cuban food and eateries, and factoids about the city. A scene in the Miami Tunnel prompts: “The Miami Tunnel was first proposed in 1983 to alleviate the traffic....Between the burgeoning cruise ship traffic and the steady flow of the cargo container industry, it became evident that something had to be done.” But the dialogue can be explicit, which may disturb some readers. For example, characters toss out slurs (one scene features homophobic language in an interaction with a cross-dressing sex worker). Although Jose and friends’ sarcastic banter often pokes fun at different cultures and ethnicities, the private eye explains: “All of us come from different descendants...we rag on each other like brothers because circumstances have put us together...we have had each other’s back at some point.” While the murders are detailed and graphic, the plot is engaging and Jose is a stand-up, strong protagonist. His intriguing back story contributes to his detective skills quite well.

An enjoyable, action-packed crime tale with strong language.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63338-340-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Fulton Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 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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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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