THE VULTURE FUND

Wall Street and Washington baddies plot—ploddingly—against the public interest in another lurid shocker from investment banker Frey (The Takeover, 1995). Lewis Webster, senior partner at the venerable securities firm Walker Pryce, puts up-and-coming deal-maker Mace McLain in charge of a new $2 billion fund established to make a killing in the market crash he ostensibly believes is imminent. Although mildly disturbed by his superior's timing and analysis of the economy, ambitious Mace accepts the assignment. At the same time, he's detailed to recruit Rachel Sommers, a whip-smart MBA candidate at Columbia, where alumnus Mace is an instructor. Unbeknownst to the yuppie financier, his venal boss is part of a byzantine scheme engineered by CIA Director Malcolm Becker—a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who needs big money to replace the cash he's misappropriated in aid of his White House aspirations. With evidence of Webster's hitherto unsuspected insider-trading crimes on file, the spymaster has no trouble blackmailing the elder Wall Street statesman into launching the so- called vulture fund. Leaving nothing to chance, Becker has enlisted a gang of Arab terrorists to wreak havoc throughout the US, precipitating a market collapse. Meanwhile, Mace (who's falling for Rachel) learns from the comely grad student that the sources of his fund's capital are not what he was led to believe. His original suspicious confirmed, Mace hits the road and in a West Virginia backwater unearths evidence of the Becker/Webster intrigue. Concurrently, a band of heavily armed intruders seizes control of the nuclear plant that supplies New York City's electricity. Before he can deliver the nation from the evil conspirators, however, Mace must save his own hide and reclaim Rachel from the Becker minions who've abducted her. A lone upright bull takes on lowlife bears and power-mad politicos in a paranoid fantasy almost totally devoid of pace or suspense. (First printing of 150,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-93986-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

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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