Steady pace keeps this novel consistently riveting and often entertaining.

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Winds

A NOVEL

From the Winds series , Vol. 2

In Anderson’s (Light, 2015, etc.) latest thriller, it’s up to a small group of people to stop an evil corporation from disrupting the balance between the spirit and material worlds.

When someone brutally murders Wisconsin tree farmer Ellen Groves, the Pentagon sends Lt. Col. Robert McMichaels to investigate out of suspicions that terrorists are targeting soldiers’ families. He meets up with Maj. Tom Groves and quickly learns that the Groves family, including sisters Diane and Nancy, believe something else entirely is afoot. They claim Ellen was one of the Guardians of the Watchtowers, controlling the flow of energy between the spiritual world and physical world. Meanwhile, Philip Ashur, CEO of XIIMI and master of the Black Arts, is plotting to kill all the Guardians, keeping a body part from each on ice to prevent their spirits from reaching the other side. Anderson’s novel triumphantly merges thriller elements with the supernatural: what seems like a typical murder investigation eventually pits the forces of good and evil against one another. The action scenes dabble in both. Ashur’s men kidnap McMichaels’ children, for example, leading to just one of the numerous gunfights. At the same time, Diane and Nancy, as well as others, like their aunts, are capable of magic. Diane transfers her spirit to a hawk for a particularly vicious attack entailing a bit of eye gouging. The story addresses an abundance of abstract notions, including reincarnation; for instance, Shelia Ryan, an attorney whom Ashur sends to purchase Ellen’s land, may have a change of heart once she remembers her past life from centuries ago in Egypt. Fortunately, the atypical concepts work well amid a genuine threat to the more familiar world: if Ashur succeeds at closing the spirit world, restless spirits in the physical realm will turn “vile, mean, and nasty.” Romantic interests develop perhaps a little too quickly, since they all seem predestined; Diane, who’s short with McMichaels at first, warms up to him immediately when realizing they were lovers in past lives. But Anderson rounds out his story with shocking deaths and a surprising ally for the Groves clan.

Steady pace keeps this novel consistently riveting and often entertaining.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-937491-16-4

Page Count: 558

Publisher: 2AM Publications

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 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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