Hard girls

J. Robert Lennon, 1970-

Book - 2024

Two estranged twin sisters hunt down their elusive mother-and face down the darkness they tried to escape.

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FICTION/Lennon, J. Robert
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Lennon, J. Robert (NEW SHELF) Due Jul 5, 2024
Thrillers (Fiction)
Spy fiction
New York : Mulholland Books, Little, Brown and Company 2024.
Main Author
J. Robert Lennon, 1970- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
vi, 307 pages ; 25 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Twins Jane and Lila Pool were raised to be independent and resourceful and left largely to their own devices. Mom Anabel is an unloving narcissist, frequently travelling to "visit family;" dad Harry is a caring if timid history professor. "He was a man of research, of deduction. His job was to make sense of the chaos of human endeavor." As children, Jane and Lila became obsessed with the classic Edith Nesbit novel, The Railway Children, and pretended to be spies, not yet realizing how close they are to following in their parents' footsteps. The narrative follows two time lines, the present day, in which Jane receives an unexpected message from her long-estranged sister, and 20 years ago, when an act of violence set the girls on separate paths. Lennon's (Let Me Think, 2021) writing is crisp and svelte, the dialogue punchy and witty. He excels at creating three-dimensional characters and parses out information incrementally to expertly heighten the tension. A mix of a coming-of-age tale, family drama, buddy road trip, and spy story, this yarn satisfies on all levels.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Versatile literary mockingbird Lennon ventures into the thriller genre, for the most part persuasively. Things are not as they seem. Jane Pool has a pleasant but dead-end job as an academic administrator, a hometown-sweetheart husband, a cranky but loving preteen daughter; she helps tend to her father, an aging and absent-minded professor; she looks like a typical upstate New York mom in her 30s. But, we discover, this ordinariness is deceptive: part aspiration gone awry, part hopeful mask, part dodge, part cover. Jane's husband's heart has soured, as have her feelings for him; her mother-in-law is eager to alienate her daughter's affections, and has as ammunition the fact that Jane gave birth in prison, a fact her daughter doesn't know from an era about which she's never been told. As the book begins, Jane stumbles across an encrypted email in her spam folder. Her estranged twin sister, Lila, has a lead on the whereabouts of the mother who long ago abandoned them, and Lila invites, or summons, her sister to join in the search. Lennon makes nice use of the initially inexplicable cloak-and-dagger of this, building suspense as the reader puzzles over why all of it--Jane's deeply buried secrets, her sister's elaborate spycraft, their mother's self-vanishing, and more--came to be necessary. The book jumps back and forth in time to good effect, and what we learn about the shocking act of violence that disrupted the girls' youth and eventually separated them helps illuminate their present-tense pursuit of their mother across the Mountain West and beyond. The first 40 pages or so are a hint slow to kindle, and the ending feels hurried, but the middle of this book is tautly suspenseful, cleverly plotted, and psychologically compelling; these are damaged, resourceful women who make intriguingly flawed, flinty protagonists. A promising opening to what's billed as a series of Hard Girls novels. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.