A potent, if flawed, novel that combats racism and child endangerment.


Grandma's Lost And Found

A thriller finds a trio of African-American sisters lost in Georgia’s questionable foster-care system.

In Manchester, Georgia, Carolyn Stokes supports her three young daughters by cashiering in a grocery store and dancing in a strip club. Her husband, Marshall, died in Afghanistan six years ago. One day, Carolyn returns home to find her youngest daughter, 6-year-old Ruth, playing outside in the rain. She scolds 10-year-old Danielle and 12-year-old Emily for allowing the tiny girl to catch a cold and plans to take everyone to the doctor. When a ruffian from the strip club comes to collect Carolyn for work, she rebuffs him and proceeds across town with her children. During the rain-slick journey, an aggressive Hummer runs the family’s vehicle off the road. Carolyn ends up in a coma, and the girls go to the Department of Family and Child Services. The office manager, Mrs. Bertram, doesn’t believe them when they say that their grandparents live in southern Georgia and quickly places them with Mr. and Mrs. Nateba. Meanwhile, Pvt. Rudy Bazemore visits Mr. and Mrs. Stokes, the parents of his deceased military colleague. He convinces Marshall’s mother to forgive Carolyn, whom she hasn’t spoken to since her son’s death, and attempt to see her grandchildren. In his graphic domestic thriller, Hayes (Dial Tone Dragnet, 2001) strives to illuminate the dangerous flaws in Georgia’s foster-care system. Readers will follow the Stokes girls as they are sold by Mrs. Bertram into illegal bondage to the Natebas. The Nigerian couple’s superficially warm home is where they hold young people in a basement dungeon and train them as sex slaves. While Hayes avoids any grotesque sexual depictions, the Natebas commit plenty of physical violence against the children, making this a harrowing read. The author’s characters are memorable, including Rudy, who has artificial legs, and Emily, who’s intelligent beyond her years. Hayes’ prose, though, frequently calls for editing, like in the line “She listened carefully for any, tall-tale sounds of danger.”

A potent, if flawed, novel that combats racism and child endangerment.

Pub Date: April 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5196-6469-3

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?