An often enjoyable romp, despite some awkward prose.


Sawyer (co-author: Other Arms, Other Eyes, 2016) offers a mystery/thriller set in modern-day New York City, featuring a couple under threat.

Meghan Joyce and Thomas Catherton Lockhart are both at turning points in their lives when they meet by chance. She’s just about given up on finding a decent man in New York; he’s just about given up on his own ability to be a decent man. He’s about to let himself fall off a cruise ship in the harbor when Joyce steps in and stops him; they quickly hit it off, but after a whirlwind year of romance, Lockhart informs Joyce he must break it off with her and never see her again. It turns out that the specific reason that he was going to end it all was because he’d become embroiled in the work of a nefarious multinational criminal named Locke Murdock. While trying to get himself out of the business and possibly make amends, Lockhart finds himself pursued by Murdock’s assassins—one of whom, Randall Yearwood, is a personal friend. Thus begins a chase around New York City, with Joyce sticking by Lockhart’s side; along the way, Joyce involves a man named Gil DeLeo, a shy chef who has a crush on her; and his friend, Barbara Anderson. There are a lot of fun elements in this story as it makes use of different settings around the city. Joyce, Lockhart, and Yearwood are all well-drawn characters; Joyce is shown to crave an escape from her dead-end job, Lockhart reveals a certain fussiness, and Randall is a hit man who never killed anyone whom he didn’t think deserved it. For the most part, this is a charming cat-and-mouse story, and it’s often amusing to watch the chase. However, the dialogue is sometimes clunky, as when Anderson tries to convince DeLeo of tawny-haired Joyce’s dangerousness by saying, “That woman might have a map of Ireland all over her face, but the capital city’s not Dublin, it’s Troublin’.” The descriptions can be overwrought, as when Sawyer says that Murdock’s “eyes harmonized well with his professionally jovial countenance.”

An often enjoyable romp, despite some awkward prose.

Pub Date: June 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9970719-9-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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