The author alters the stakes in this entertaining con artist tale and brings his characters full circle.



From the Travelers series , Vol. 6

This sixth installment of a series finds the Traveling Man grifting alone while his partner enjoys a normal life.

The Traveling Man, a career con artist, is using the name Tony Rogers while in Mitchellville, Maryland. His wife, continuing under the alias Nicole, has opted for semiretirement with millionaire James Denison in San Francisco. Tony flies without his usual backup into the midst of lawyer Jerry Chen, National Defense Agent Paul Robertson, and several other conspirators who have stolen NGO aid funds from Kyrgyzstan. Chen plans to break into the safe of Clemens, the conspirator holding key bank account codes, to protect himself from being offed by someone killing members of the group. The attorney contacts Missy Grey, a player who calls Tony to crack the safe. The heist goes well until someone murders Duke and Barker, Tony’s partners, making it personal. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Nicole battles the boredom of living straight by taking on Lily Crockett, a young apprentice criminal. Together they flirt and drink with men and joyride in stolen cars. But when Lily attempts a solo adventure, the callow con doesn’t escape the attention of her marks. They steal her purse and threaten to unravel her life, which forces Nicole to step in. In this latest volume of The Travelers series, King (The Kidnap Victim, 2018, etc.) maintains his svelte, addictive style despite a touch of nostalgia for his characters’ early days. As Nicole reminds Tony, “Money spends better when you have to steal it.” Denison can’t quite douse Nicole’s grifting fire, and she frequently tells him not to worry (“Just relax. This isn’t Cricket Bay”). The plot’s main thrill is seeing Tony in action alone among a half-dozen greedy backstabbers. There’s fresh tension here, as the author eventually proves that his con has “that old happiness” with Nicole and is “one step better than he was on his own.” From the elegiac tone, readers may suspect disaster in the final pages. Or will events leave the Travelers prepped for either the quiet life or another thrilling mark?

The author alters the stakes in this entertaining con artist tale and brings his characters full circle.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9993648-5-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Blurred Lines Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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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

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