An entertaining thriller about a ruthless political assassination.

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The Coalition

An FBI agent and an intrepid reporter uncover a vast right-wing conspiracy to gain control of the U.S. government.

Marquis (Blind Thrust, 2015, etc.) uses the perspectives of multiple characters to narrate a contemporary political thriller. As the novel opens, a female assassin known by her code name, Skyler, pulls off the ultimate coup: she shoots and kills the U.S. president-elect. Though she is bankrolled by an ultra-right-wing Christian organization called American Patriots (AMP) and its charismatic leader, Benjamin Locke, Skyler herself acts only out of self-interest—and a hatred of men, because she was abused by them for most of her life. But when she loses her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to continue playing the game. Meanwhile, as AMP seeks to convince the new president, Republican Katherine Fowler, to carry out its own agenda now that she’s in the White House, FBI agent Ken Patton tries to solve the assassination case. When he runs into old flame Jennifer Odden, a journalist who is working undercover at AMP, the two decide to team up to figure out who is behind the killing and how far up the conspiracy goes. Soon, they find themselves targets as they race to bring the murderers to justice and stop them from killing again. Marquis has woven a tight plot with genuine suspense. At 495 pages, the book is a little on the long side. But the author for the most part propels the story forward as the protagonists work to uncover the truth. Skyler, a sexy but damaged female killer, reads a bit more like a male fantasy than a three-dimensional woman; she has too many lines like “there was no room left in her heart for love,” and her arc is the most predictable. Still, all the characters hold the reader’s attention as they dive further into danger. Marquis’ storytelling hits close to the zeitgeist—too close, in the case of his description of a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. Here’s hoping the rest of these plotlines stay confined to the page.

An entertaining thriller about a ruthless political assassination.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943593-08-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 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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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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