A fast-paced investigation, full of mystery and suspense.

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Patriot's Blood

In Holcroft’s debut thriller, a lawyer looks into the murder of his client, a witness who may have spotted an unidentified accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

In 2011, Dallas attorney Mike Marchetti has only known his newest client, Robert Baker, an agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, for a few hours before Baker turns up dead, killed in an alleged robbery. It turns out that the agent had a plan for this eventuality, though, leaving Marchetti money to investigate his death. It seems that he was one of 10 people who claimed to have seen an unknown man with Timothy McVeigh more than 15 years earlier, right before the infamous bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Not only has the FBI failed to locate the mysterious accomplice, but with Baker gone, the original 10 witnesses are now down to four—the others also died in dubious circumstances, including two in separate drive-by shootings. Marchetti and his private-investigator pal Tom Shannon see potential links between McVeigh and various groups, including terrorists and white supremacists. They also suspect a “high-level cover-up,” speculating, among other things, that the explosives at the Murrah Building were considerably more than just a truck bomb. A break-in at his office makes Marchetti believe that his investigation has made him a target himself. This is all but confirmed after two separate attempts on his life. Hopefully, he can stop whoever’s after him before they hurt someone he loves—such as his 10-year-old son, Scott. Holcroft’s taut narrative starts the core mystery off on the very first page, and quickly piles on the suspects and conspiracy theories. The protagonist, meanwhile, has a personal investment in the tale, having lost his younger sister during the 9/11 attacks, and he faces myriad obstacles along the way—including Baker’s daughter, Sheri Baker, whose lawyer demands that Marchetti return the posthumous $20,000 retainer. Instances from the villains’ perspectives primarily highlight specific dangers to Marchetti, but the overall sense of menace gives the story a relentless edge, as if anyone could attack at any time. The ending is both realistic and terrifying: Marchetti does get answers, but only some—and a further threat could very well still exist.

A fast-paced investigation, full of mystery and suspense.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4802-8963-5

Page Count: 424

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2016

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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 love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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