A guilty pleasure just dying to be read on a Rio beach during Carnival.


A marriage of convenience between an American woman on the run from her past and a Brazilian cop out for justice gets complicated in this hothouse thriller.

Newlyweds Rosalinda and Gilberto da Costa have secrets. Her name is actually Linda Rose Armbrust. She met Gilberto, a cop, in a Denver pawnshop, where she was trying to cash in on her grandmother’s ring. Gilberto, way out of his Brazil jurisdiction, came to her rescue after she killed a man who was unfortunately the “worthless son of some Rocky Mountain crime boss.” Gilberto gallantly disposed of the victim and, initially more out of lust than love, proposed they marry and live together in Belo Horizonte in Brazil. Gilberto did not tell Roz that he was previously married to a woman who was brutally murdered and that the baby she was carrying was cut out of her and is still missing. Now, Roz is in a foreign country, does not know the language, and is haunted by migraine-enhanced paranoiac fears that the Denver mobster will find her. All of this may or may not be connected to a rash of deaths involving women who have been the fatal victims of botched abortions. To make matters worse, Gilberto’s formidable mother does not approve of Roz and seems capable of all kinds of measures to subvert their marriage (“One doesn’t question Dona Anabela,” a character ominously warns). The team of Star and Beatty (Dancing for the General, 2017) has fashioned not so much a mystery as a soap opera. There are melodramatic revelations scattered throughout (“He was the only link Gilberto had to the dark, forbidden cult that was involved in his first wife’s murder”), and basic expository information is repeated as if readers had missed the previous day’s episode and needed to be brought up to speed. But just as with a soap opera, it is easy to get swept up in the story even when credulity is strained to the limit. Roz is a sympathetic heroine, and readers will root for Gilberto, who defied expectations he would join the family gemstone business to become a cop. A strong sense of place is another virtue in this enjoyable, fish-out-of-water tale.

A guilty pleasure just dying to be read on a Rio beach during Carnival.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9893578-9-0

Page Count: 333

Publisher: D. M. Kreg Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2019

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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