Flashes of Psycho on a ride through the gruesome landscape of a corpse-obsessed serial killer, with supernatural boy as hero.

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XXXtreme Discretion

A psychopathic serial killer who finds his female victims on a hookup website meets brutal justice with the help of a ghostly boy in this paranormal thriller.

Dwight Barnes, 36, a psychopathic serial killer, likes to cruise the hookup website XXXtreme Discretion to find his victims. Using handles like Plussizedluver34 and Lovemlarge36, Barnes hunts targets on the heavy side, unable to stop until he finds a perfect size 12. His “dream girl” must also wear a yellow dress, which he will use to clothe his dead beloved, whose rotted corpse he French-kisses in a coffin in his basement. Unfortunately, the insecure women he meets online tend to lie about their weight. When Barnes, the wealthy owner of a New York–based accounting firm, discovers their dishonesty, it triggers outbursts of lust and violence that will leave some readers queasy. (A meat grinder and a hungry dog come in handy.) But screams are futile in the dungeon of Barnes’ remote hunting lodge in Pennsylvania. That is, until Monica Ross, a Roxbury, New Jersey, detective, sees that several missing women bear striking similarities. As she zeros in on Barnes, a ghostly boy appears in front of her car in a dark tunnel. As the boy lays in a coma in the hospital, his disembodied voice in the minds of key players will ultimately lead to the killer in a ghastly climax. Along the way, Infinito (The Secrets of Hallow, 2014, etc.) plunges readers elbow-deep into scenes of gore and torture. He also deftly “brings to life” the corpse, which, Son of Sam–like, directs the killer’s moves. Though well-paced, the novel’s tone sometimes wavers: “Raised by an abusive father who spent more time fucking him in the ass than teaching him about life, Dwight never thought he’d learn how to give his heart to another person.” Some readers will also shudder as children are maimed and murdered. In short, this page-turner is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Flashes of Psycho on a ride through the gruesome landscape of a corpse-obsessed serial killer, with  supernatural boy as hero.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1626942417

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2015

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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