An engaging tale with plenty of miscreants, sharp prose, and enjoyable characters.



From the Jack Hart Mysteries series , Vol. 2

In the second legal thriller in Reeve’s (All Good Things, 2018, etc.) series, drug dealers, corrupt cops, and a murder keep Seattle attorneys Jack Hart and Harmony Piper on their toes.

Jack is a lawyer at Piper, Whatcom & Hardcastle, as is Harmony, who’s still traumatized by the murder of her father, Humphrey Piper; later, she elects to work as an in-house attorney for Tokyo-based businessman Higuro Yamashita. Police officer Mark Oden, Jack’s former foster brother, has been working undercover in a heroin-distribution ring for the past three months, unbeknownst to Jack. Mark receives a call from his next-door neighbor Bobbie Ryan, whose husband, Garrett, has been abusing her. The next thing readers know, Garrett is dead, Bobbie is in shock, and Mark is found unconscious in the Ryan house with his service revolver in hand. A single bullet was fired from the gun—and it may be the one that ripped through Garrett’s head. Jack and Harmony are convinced that Mark has been framed, but by whom? The drug dealers? Mark’s father, who’s a drug kingpin in a separate organization? The police? Jack and Harmony are civil attorneys, so they must find an expert in criminal law to defend Mark. The section dealing with their search is like a short primer on what to look for in legal counsel—and what to avoid—when one’s life depends on it. Jack narrates this action-packed story, but Harmony proves to be the star of the courtroom scenes. This time around, Reeve develops Mark more fully as a character, and he and Harmony make a solid team for this continuing series. Betsy, a neurotic dog who followed Jack home last year—and never left—will be a special treat for canine aficionados. As Jack says succinctly, “there was something menacing about Betsy, as if she carried a rage that she might unleash at any moment. I loved her madly.” The twisty plot is satisfying but not overly complex. This entry works fine as a stand-alone, but it’s even better if one reads the previous book first.

An engaging tale with plenty of miscreants, sharp prose, and enjoyable characters.

Pub Date: June 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982940-71-3

Page Count: 255

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

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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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