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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
Jill Hand offers this delectably irresistible blurb to introduce her delectably irresistible novel, White Oaks: “Billionaire Blanton Trapnell is about to turn ninety. He's asked his three children for an unusual birthday present: he wants to know what it feels like to murder someone and he wants them to provide him with a victim.” I’ve never read a sharper hook, nor felt more compelled to take the bait. Fortunately, wonderfully, Jill Hand is more than equal to the task of fully rewarding such a perverse if instinctive impulse. And I don’t think it would be too much of a spoiler just to mention that in this exquisitely plotted story, things don’t always go well for the kids.
The children of White Oaks, name of the luxurious southern mansion and luscious landscape of their upbringing, as creatively and somewhat macabrely imagined and outrageously rendered by Jill Hand, are richly endowed – literally and descriptively. Amazingly, they do not devolve into simple stereotypes of the rich and famous, though make no mistake, they do share lots of the same mis-evolved qualities. Still, Jill Hand – like a literary magician – surprises you at every turn when revealing her characters’ wondrously human aspects, both quirky and endearing (Aimee’s delicious choice of ‘happy place’ comes to mind), making these three rich kids guilty pleasures of their own for the rapidly seduced reader. Also, one must absolutely mention the quality of the writing, which is beautifully conceived, perfectly edited, and thoroughly polished, making of her mystery/thriller/comedy a rich delight indeed.