Forced and furiously complicated second in a series of medical procedurals starring brainy, sexy, ``adrenaline junky'' Manhattan emergency-room physician Evelyn Sutcliffe. Starting with the same premise as in her debut novel, Blood Run (1988), Robinson has Dr. Sutcliffe fail to save a female victim of apparent male aggression. Theresa Kahr, a young German national who works in a boutique and volunteers at a neighborhood abortion clinic, is wheeled into the University Hospital ER having been bludgeoned almost to death with a pipe. Worse yet, her attacker crudely violated her with a toy doll, identifying her as one more victim of the serial killer dubbed by newspapers as Babydoll. A hectic parade follows, involving emergency-room details, capsule portraits of personnel, cops, Dr. Sutcliffe's previous and possible lovers, and Lisa Chiu, a sympathetically rendered polyracial feminist lesbian ER tech who looks upon the thirtysomething Sutcliffe as a mentor. It's no surprise, then, that Chiu is Babydoll's next victim. Sutcliffe suspects that the murders have something to do with a series of fanatical attacks on abortion- clinic staffers. Frustrated by the slow pace of the police investigation (``You've been watching too much `Murder, She Wrote,' '' an NYPD detective chides her), Sutcliffe pokes into Chiu's background, discovering that she had information about a Medicaid scam involving Sutcliffe's ER. This sets off a series of squeamish speculations as Sutcliffe wonders about the dirty secrets her colleagues might be hiding. More corpses arrive and, as if on cue, Babydoll starts stalking Sutcliffe, forcing her into the arms of lovers, confidantes, and mentors whom (almost too late) she learns that she shouldn't have trusted. Arising from a pile of red herrings, Babydoll finally dukes it out with Sutcliffe, who- -refreshingly—is horrified at the de rigueur violence such climaxes demand. Competent medical lore and compassionately detailed minor players are dampened by soap operatics and a trite, formulaic plot. (First printing of 125,000; $200,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-380-79458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet