An engaging, often tender tale filled with vibrant period details.




The Roaring ’20s come alive through the pages of an old yellowed manuscript that reveals a long-buried, sordid tale of love and betrayal among society’s finest in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In Flinn’s (Allegiance, 2016, etc.) cleverly designed novel within a novel, four friends come together on Anne Borden “AB” Montgomery’s front porch to read a story written in 1930 and recently found among some of AB’s old papers. Attached to the manuscript was a letter from its author, Perry Whitmore, to AB’s mother, Sylvie Meeks. Perry, a friend of Sylvie’s brother Kip, explains that he composed the novel from letters he received from Kip during the summer of 1928 and Sylvie’s diary (given to Kip in 1929) covering the same period. Kip and Sylvie provide the manuscript’s alternating voices. AB and her three companions (80-year-old Bernard May and 30-somethings Elle McLarin and Nate Aldridge) take turns reading Perry’s novel aloud over successive summer nights. It begins when Sylvie and Kip go to a Saturday night dance at Lumina, the Wrightsville Beach pavilion “Palace of Light,” in May 1928. They run into Catherine and Clifton Carmichael, another sibling duo, whom they have known since childhood. The Carmichaels, sitting at the top of Wilmington aristocracy, and the Meeks, merely a family of means, move in different circles. But this fateful summer, the magic of music and dancing leads to risky romance—and violence. Flinn’s evocative prose re-creates the era: “Cicadas cranked up their song as a backdrop to the city noises, of the trolley bell clanging, train whistles blowing, automobiles rumbling along, dogs barking, and the occasional clip-clopping of a horse-drawn cart.” She captures the exuberance of the decade’s dance, fashion, and changing social conventions as well as the more sinister underbelly of the Jim Crow South. Catherine’s sordid backstory, only partially disclosed before the manuscript’s dramatic denouement, skirts the edges of credulity but nonetheless packs a shocking punch. The evolving relationships between AB and Bernard and Elle and Nate create a satisfying narrative symmetry between the two storylines—one past and the other contemporary.

An engaging, often tender tale filled with vibrant period details.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 186

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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