A brisk detective novel sequel that packs a punch.




From the Eli Quinn series , Vol. 2

Private eye Eli Quinn returns to track down the person controlling a drone used in a political assassination attempt in Britt’s (Closure, 2015) latest mystery.

Quinn, now an officially licensed private investigator, has one case under his belt and is currently waiting for his next client. He and his reporter pal, Samantha Marcos, brave a hot Arizona morning in the town of Pleasant to watch state senator Jackie Brand discuss her plan to end Sheriff Horace Otto’s program targeting undocumented immigrants. Volunteers, including Quinn’s buddy Jack “Beach” Beachum, handle security at the event but don’t anticipate a drone flying into the podium and exploding. The senator fortunately survives but ends up in a coma. Beach, wary of the sheriff’s apathy regarding any investigation, asks Quinn to look into it, passing along a clue: a homing device among the rubble that points to an inside job. Still, narrowing down the suspect list isn’t easy, as potential drone pilots could belong to the Desert Drone Club or could have studied at the Arizona Drone University flight school. Anti-immigration groups, too, strongly oppose Sen. Brand’s immigration policy. It isn’t long before Quinn thinks someone’s watching him, and soon, there’s a more overt threat: a muscle-bound thug who shows up at his house uninvited. Luckily, Quinn has backup—most notably, his trusty German shepherd companion, Solo. As in his previous novel, Britt hits the ground running in this relatively short tale. The expedited plot gets the PI on the case as soon as possible and generally works in the story’s favor; however, Quinn does lock onto suspects perhaps a little too swiftly. The series as a whole shows some progress, adding an ally in the form of hard-core gamer/CIA guy Pauly Peters and more formidable villains who can match Quinn’s taekwondo prowess. Solo is, again, irresistible, and his unspoken rapport with Quinn is even more engaging than the hints of romance between Quinn and Sam. One standout is the PI’s certainty that Solo is aware of an impending face-off against some baddies because people had “discussed the plan in front of him.” That said, there’s refreshing subtlety in the human couple’s slowly developing relationship, as well.

A brisk detective novel sequel that packs a punch.

Pub Date: July 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9977614-0-5

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Ink Spot Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 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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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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