A whip-smart, buoyant protagonist guides this moody, character-driven tale.


A woman’s search for her missing artist friend takes her into a world of greed, drugs, and murder in Maddox’s (Yubi: A Love Story, 2015, etc.) thriller.

For most of the eight months Kelly Durrell and Day Randall have known each other, they’ve lived in the former’s Boulder, Colorado, home. Kelly, an assistant museum curator, has a fondness for art and recognizes Day’s talent for photography. The two have even grown close, so when Kelly returns from visiting Chicago, she’s shocked to find that Day has evidently moved out. Because local cops believe Day simply left of her own accord, Kelly launches a personal investigation into her friend’s disappearance. She starts by talking with Day’s pal Odette Helm, who has a ready supply of drugs and an enigmatic, rich hubby, Stuart, who has fortified his vast estate with an electric fence. It just so happens that Odette’s paramour, Marcus, has also inexplicably vanished. Questioning people like Day’s apathetic ex-roommate, Courtney, gets Kelly entangled with a handful of sleazy individuals, chief among them bar manager Welch. It’s soon clear that someone’s searching for Day’s negatives and/or photos, potentially incriminating evidence that could provoke Kelly’s abduction—or something deadlier. Maddox establishes characters so well that the mystery sneaks its way into the plot. Eccentric neighbor Owen, for example, may have witnessed something pertinent, but he’s unreliable—paranoia dominates his personality (he’s convinced someone’s listening). And Kelly isn’t so much an amateur sleuth as a concerned friend. Rather than looking for a smoking gun, she just wants to know what happened to Day. Characters are often surprising: apparent villains occasionally garner sympathy, and Kelly receives someone’s unexpected assistance. While the cast can be unpredictable, the plotlines aren’t. But this won’t discourage readers who are regularly treated to crackling dialogue and stirring prose. For example, Kelly might not be Detective Cash Peterson’s type, but he certainly notices that “her sadness and earnestness lingered like perfume.”

A whip-smart, buoyant protagonist guides this moody, character-driven tale.

Pub Date: March 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942737-04-9

Page Count: 277

Publisher: Cantraip Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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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.


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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