Overcooked prose (“ . . . like a sunrise, she rolled off of him”), crudely described sex (“He grabbed her ass”), offensive...



A questionable and overlong thriller about a successful investor who makes a pact with a Mafia-devil and pays him no due.

Through yet another Wall St.–Little Italy imbroglio, Rosenberg (Tygers of Wrath, 1990) threads a compelling question: What happens when a squeaky-clean investment executive unleashes his potential for evil? For his daughter Jessica’s 18th birthday, banker Jeffrey Blaine and his wife Phyllis throw a party at a Manhattan restaurant so exclusive that even the Mayor has trouble getting a table. Onto the scene come some randy boys “who couldn’t have looked more Italian if they had been selling cannoli from pushcarts.” The studs lure Blaine’s daughter and girlfriends into private rooms, and when the sex gets too rough, one girl screams. Out of the crowd that gathers slides handsome Mafia lord Chet Fiore, who deftly keeps the police and tabloid reporters at bay. Now owing him a favor, Blaine concocts a laundering scheme that enriches Fiore. Emboldened by the “money of the hidden self” that’s gushing forth, Blaine emerges as a slick, sharp player who gradually edges Fiore aside. He also carries on with Elaine Lester, who, unbeknownst to Blaine, is a US attorney stalking Fiore. The costs to Blaine? Not much. Daughter Jessica battles drugs and physical abuse from one of the boys from the party, but she heads for recovery. Wife Phyllis meets Fiore for sex, giving Blaine a reason to divorce her. Lester leaves Blaine while one of her minions stays on his tail. Still, nothing prevents Blaine and his daughter from enjoying the farmhouse he buys in Normandy.

Overcooked prose (“ . . . like a sunrise, she rolled off of him”), crudely described sex (“He grabbed her ass”), offensive stereotypes (“His eyes were filled with the chronic sadness of an aging queen”), and an unsettling denouement (crime sometimes pays).

Pub Date: June 4, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-019415-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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 modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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