Sharp, fast, and slick. Ferrigno (Scavenger Hunt, 2003, etc.) can read like Raymond Chandler on speed, with pages turning...

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THE WAKE-UP

A mysterious Special Ops fixer makes the mistake of taking his job too personally.

Frank Thorpe, an army vet who was booted from Delta Force for starting a civil war in South America, knows how to get things done and doesn’t mind bending the rules. After Delta, Frank went to work for a “shop,” a shadowy private task force that did jobs the government couldn’t afford to take on itself. The shops don’t exactly play by Marquess of Queensbury rules, but Frank was a loose cannon even by their standards, and one of them let him go after he botched a technology-smuggling sting and got one of his comrades killed. Shell-shocked and unemployed, he wanders aimlessly about LA until one day he sees a Mexican peddler manhandled at the airport by a pompous businessman. Outraged, he calls on his undercover contacts to track down the bully, who turns out to be a Newport Beach art dealer named Doug Meachum. Frank then poses as a State Department art-smuggling rep and tells one of Meachum’s customers that the priceless Mayan artifact Meachum sold her is a fake. The customer, a social-climbing drug dealer named Missy Riddenhauser, goes ballistic and sends her sociopathic brother Cecil off to whack the bitchy gossip columnist who exposes the “fraud” in a local paper, and the whole affair kind of snowballs from there. Frank, meanwhile, is still trying to track down the engineer who blew his IT sting and killed his partner. All his friends in the shops tell him the same thing: Revenge is bad for business, a waste of time, and too dangerous for a smart guy to bother with. They’re right. But Frank, who believes in loyalty and justice, has some serious gaps in his education.

Sharp, fast, and slick. Ferrigno (Scavenger Hunt, 2003, etc.) can read like Raymond Chandler on speed, with pages turning and adrenaline pretty high throughout.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-42249-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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