In this engaging novel, the author wields dynamic characters and intelligent prose like a skilled surgeon’s instruments.




In Van Anderson’s (The Final Push, 2013) medical thriller, an ex-surgeon is coerced into harvesting organs from unwilling patients.

It’s been a couple of years since Dr. David McBride lost his medical license due to the misdeeds of his mentor, Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Now he’s barely scraping by at a research lab while caring for his father, who has dementia, and his pregnant wife. David gets an offer from the enigmatic Mr. White regarding a plan involving buying and selling organs. The wary doctor agrees, once White threatens his wife, and he’s shocked to learn that the people who are “selling” kidneys are drugged homeless men who are anything but volunteers. As the baddies monitor him, he tries to find a way to track the organs to the implanting surgeon, unaware that the guilty party is Dr. Turnbull—the man who essentially ruined his own medical career. Although Van Anderson establishes the good and bad guys early, he presents neither side in easily definable terms. David, for example, is initially sympathetic, due to his sad family and financial situations, but some of the things he does, particularly near the story’s end, are morally questionable. Turnbull, meanwhile, may employ unsavory means, but he’s trying to fund his company, NuLife, which could eliminate transplant waiting lists. White’s motivation is almost admirable; indeed, it’s one of the few details readers learn about the man. Later, the story adds Detective Kate D’Angelo to the mix, and her presence causes tension when David is forced to run from both the cops and White’s thugs. The story incorporates David’s medical background well, such as when he professionally assesses his own injuries after villains shoot at him. The author, a former heart surgeon, weaves medical jargon expertly into the text, although readers may be unfamiliar with some unexplained terminology during David’s surgeries.

In this engaging novel, the author wields dynamic characters and intelligent prose like a skilled surgeon’s instruments.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0990759706

Page Count: 292

Publisher: White Light Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 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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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.


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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