An engagingly written series starter with a bounty of plot twists and Miami vices.



From the Gold & Courage Series series

An attorney links a present-day betrayal and murder in Florida to unsolved past crimes in Gordon’s debut legal thriller.

Miami lawyer Vance Courage still thinks about a decades-old cold case of a murdered waitress at the Hotel Mutiny from when he was a cop. The Mutiny catered to drug kingpins who demanded expensive champagne, girls, and more. His friend Daniel Ruiz, a retired police sergeant, hasn’t forgotten the crime either. In the present day, Vance is dating “tall, whippet-thin blonde” Lauren Gold, whom he met on a dating website. However, Lauren, a freelance video marketing producer, is catfishing Vance at the request of Ray Dinero, her friend and singular client, who has a connection to the drug gangs. Meanwhile, Vance’s uncle Tony Famosa slithers back into his nephew’s life after hiding in Cuba for 20 years. The FBI long has had Tony on its most-wanted list for smuggling billions of dollars’ worth of cocaine into Florida—and much of the money is still missing. It turns out that Tony may be connected to Ray, and he’s also linked to a Cuban sociopath, Ramon “Mongo” Solana, who was at the Mutiny on the fateful night that the waitress died—as was Lauren. Coincidences start piling up, and Vance and Daniel may finally get to the bottom of that unsolved crime. Readers may be intrigued by the fact that this story was inspired by events at the real-life Hotel Mutiny in Miami, where the author worked in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Rich descriptions fill the pages of this novel; for example, Daniel’s face features “fleshy folds between his eyes, deep enough to clamp a dime.” Some of Gordon’s word choices are particularly evocative, as when a killer with a deformed foot “crabbed out of the room.” The characters are distinctive, and protagonist Vance is shown to have considerable flaws. It should be noted, however, that there are violent scenes of murder and sexual predation that may be over-the-top for some readers.

An engagingly written series starter with a bounty of plot twists and Miami vices.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73360-641-7

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Gordon Productions, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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