A solid second round of capers featuring this attractive, cynical couple.

READ REVIEW

Con Game

In this second installment of the License to Lie mystery series, con artist Roxy Tanner and criminologist Skip Cosgrove contend with a scam gone wrong, death threats and their evolving romance.

At a Hollywood party and looking fabulous, Roxy Tanner is there to lure obnoxious financier Jack Welton back to his hideaway apartment. She was hired by Anita, his scorned mistress, to exact revenge. At the apartment, Roxy stuns Welton with her Taser and hacks into his computer to gain access to his illegal bank account. Anita and her brother Dom arrive to help, but Roxy leaves in haste upon learning that criminologist Skip Cosgrove—with whom she’s having a hot, if wary, affair—is in the hospital. Turns out, he was attacked by drug-world criminal Joey Santino, whom he recently testified against. Skip senses Roxy has been up to trouble and that she will want to help track Santino, so he sends her on a busywork mission to scope out a house formerly connected to the criminal. Roxy stumbles onto fresh leads, however, thanks to tips from Lily, a 12-year-old street kid. While Roxy and Lily bond and follow various trails, Skip discovers Welton is dead, and he goes on the hunt to find the killer and protect Roxy. The lovers eventually have their reunion at the home of Anita’s wise aunt Marjorie, which precedes a final sequence that resolves the crosscutting mystery plots. Author of several previous mysteries, including License to Lie (2014), which launched Roxy and Skip, Ambrose touches on high-finance malfeasance, adultery and drug dealing with the kind of snark that will remind readers of Elmore Leonard. Given their moral nuances, Roxy and Skip are entertaining anchors for a series, and the introduction of Lily brings the promise of further complications for their relationship. Yet Ambrose’s rather noir/pulp-fiction explosion of characters, settings and plot details can at times be clichéd as well as confusing, with the mysteries ultimately not as intriguing as his sleuthing protagonists. Still, the narrative moves smoothly enough, and readers will look forward to the duo’s future adventures.

A solid second round of capers featuring this attractive, cynical couple.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 311

Publisher: Satori

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more