A brainy, fast-moving thriller about memory and identity.

DARK PRAYER

Tasked with investigating a young woman who has forgotten her identity, a man uncovers connections to a secret society.

“Tycoon’s son in brawl,” reads the caption accompanying a photo of Jack Simonetti’s latest escapade. Young, handsome, idle and dependent on his father Leon’s wealth, Jack has no recourse when ordered from New York to London to help out Leon’s old friend Daniel Barone, whose ward, Jenilee, disappeared and lost her memory. Found after more than two years (and now calling herself Eloise Blake), she wants nothing to do with her well-appointed old life; instead, she prefers the dangerous game of living by her wits and practicing “free running,” or parcours. Also a parcoursist, Jack is enjoined by Barone to win Eloise’s trust and convince her to return home. Eloise is suspicious: She’s tormented by hallucinations, half-memories and obsessively remembered numbers, but after Jack saves her life, she accepts his aid. As the two investigate, they uncover links to a secret scientific/mystical society, the Order of Mnemosyne, whose members included Daniel, Leon and Eloise’s mother. The Order ran hubristic experiments that seem connected to Eloise’s current memory problems—but someone wants these memories to remain forgotten, putting her in danger. South African novelist Mostert (Season of the Witch, 2013, etc.) brings together fascinating strands of biology, psychology and mysticism, with astute observations on memory, the past, identity and love. The well-described parcours scenes nicely capture the sport’s dynamic flow—a perfect fit for Eloise’s live-in-the-moment ethos: “Never slow down. If a movement doesn’t work out, don’t agonise over the recovery; just move your body forward. Movement is life. That was what parkour was all about.” Jack’s development from self-centered rich kid to self-sacrificing lover is believably handled, paralleling his growing respect for Eloise’s right and ability to make her own decisions. Mostert skillfully ups the ante with suspenseful episodes of danger leading to a climactic rooftop scene.

A brainy, fast-moving thriller about memory and identity.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1909965201

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Portable Magic Ltd

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

SUMMER ISLAND

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 35

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more