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Penumbra

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3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  566 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Jade Dupree is a beautician and an undertaker's assistant with a gift for smoothing the ravages of death from the faces of her clientele. But her strange talent isn't the only thing that sets her apart from the townspeople of tiny Drexel, Mississippi.

Jade is half-black and the unacknowledged bastard daughter of Drexel's "first lady," the imperious Lucille Longier. Jade's
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ebook, 372 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Tyrus Books (first published April 4th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,306)
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☺~Tina~☺
Nov 02, 2015 ☺~Tina~☺ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-free-read
I went back and forth on this one between a 3 and 4 but since the overall book was good, I'll stick with a 4. What made me want to take away a star was the ending. I'm not sure if the author plans to do a sequel or not, but I think everything could have been finished in this book. If another book is printed, then a ton of questions will be answered, if not then this was a poor ending to a good book.

I picked this up as a free read on Amazon. Not what I normally read but since I'm from MS, it piq
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Tara Chevrestt
This was a mixture of mystery, horror, and historical fiction. Def. unique. It's ugly, dark, and suspenseful. My heart actually pounded double throughout the last quarter.


It's about how selfishness and greed destroy a person...how karma can get you...how sometimes love causes pain.

Jade is half white, half black. Her adopted father is the chauffeur/handyman for a wealthy white woman--her real mother. He's been in love with the witch for all his life...and his wife knows it, so Jade has been taugh
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Colleen
Nov 17, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it
I would give this 3.5 stars for the ending, but I enjoyed the book overall, so I bumped it to a 4. Haines did a wonderful job depicting the south and racial influences of the past. Though highly disturbing at times because our world has become so modern when it comes to bi-racial relationships, the detail in writing is what took me back to a place in time where these kind of incidences occurred. I feel let down by the ending; the story was stopped very short; almost as if the writer was on a dea ...more
Emily
Apr 27, 2010 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This had the potential to be a good book, I just feel like she left it very open ended at the close. It was an easy read, but a bit scattered at times. Eluded to supernatural influences which was a concept I wish would have been used to play a bigger role. Enjoyed the story line & relationships throughout the story but was frustrated by the end.
Ginger
Dec 08, 2014 Ginger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery/Suspense Fans
I've had this book on my Kindle for awhile and decided to read it for a challenge. Boy, am I glad I did! Great mystery set in Mississippi. Fast-paced, suspenseful, and quite the page turner. The last 50-60 pages had my heart pounding and palms sweating. Would love to see this made into a movie! Loved it!
Richard Philbrick
Oct 13, 2011 Richard Philbrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read anything by this author before and had no idea what I was getting into when I downloaded the free version to my Kindle. Excellent read. A real page-turner through the last part of the book. Ms. Haines knows how to keep you up well past your bedtime to find out how things work out in this one.
Rosemary Cantrell
Mississippi - mid 1950's - race is an issue. Sisters, one with a black father, one with a white father, are caught up in a mystery when the white sister is beaten and left her dead and her young child kidnapped. This was an OK book, and there was some good mystery, but it didn't totally draw me in. For one thing, the rich/poor and black/white issues, while realistic is some ways, were sometimes a stretch. I also have a problem when a couple tears the clothes off of each other, as though they hav ...more
Julia Spencer-Fleming
Nobody writes Southern better than Carolyn Haines. She can write light, as in her bestselling Bones series, or she can write dark, as in this gripping standalone that explores the grimy undertones of a small southern town. Like IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, only better.
Ann
Oct 18, 2011 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author writes well and the book is easy to read. However, its almost as if the author is trying too hard to be edgy by including violence, language, and scenes that seem odd and sometimes just down right silly.
Nick Jamilla
It hooked me early on, and I loved the writing. It's not a happy book, though it is emotionally liberating in some ways regarding love, race, and the unveiling of hidden secrets. I like the book but didn't feel emotionally satisfied at the conclusion.

I checked Carolyn Haines website after reading the book and she admits that this is probably her darkest novel to date. I didn't really want to read a book like that, especially since I'm not particularly a fan of who-dun-it's, but I was hooked by a
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Christy
Jan 06, 2012 Christy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Post World War II, Jade Dupree owns her own beauty shop and is also the undertaker’s assistant in the small Southern town of Drexel, Mississippi. Jade is half-black, her white mother Lucille Longier having handed her over to her black handyman and his wife to raise. Jade’s white half-sister Marlena is married to Lucas Bramlett, the wealthiest man in Drexel. Although Jade’s skills as a hairdresser are sought after by the rich, white women of Drexel, she understands she will never be considered an ...more
Christine
This was a free book on Kindle. that's why I downloaded it and read it. the story line was good and kept me engaged. I was angry for Jade and the way things were before the civil rights movement. I wanted Marlena to survive. I wanted Suzanna to be alive.

The character development was awkward and I had a hard time following along. while some of that is me, i believe it was poor writing and organization. The author tried to put so much information and back story that it got confusing.

There were a
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Gina
Feb 27, 2013 Gina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read ! This book kept me up at night. Set in Drexel Mississippi in the mid 50's. Loved Jade and Marlena's characters. Jade is of mixed race and the unacknowledged bastard daughter of an elitist. Jade's half sister, Marlena, is married to the wealthiest man in the region. While the entire town knows of the blood bond between them, no one talk's about it.

Jade's talents as a hairdresser are highly sought after by Drexel's elite, Jade accepts that she'll never truly be part of the small so
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Amy
May 25, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those can't put down page turners. The story was compelling, though there were some flaws in the way it was told. It's the tale of half sisters born from the same mother but raised by different families. The book explores a lot of issues of race and privilege. There is a thrilling present-day mystery combined with a whole lot of back story with twists and turns.
Laura
Mar 24, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I still can't decide whether I loved or hated this book! The storytelling was excellent and I enjoyed the characters, but the events were pretty horrific and the conclusion was very unsatisfactory. I did respect the "reality" of the conclusion. In real life there are often bad endings. But it left me wishing for something different.
Patty
Awhile ago, I read another book by Carolyn Haines, part of her Bones series. I never connected with the characters and the story and figured I would not pick up another book by this author. However, fortunately for me, this novel was available for free for my Kindle.

I am happy that I chose to download this - it is so very different than the Bones mystery series. This is a darker, more intense novel that captured me immediately. Unlike the other book, I was grabbed by the characters and did not w
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Carmen Slaughter
I was enthralled while reading this book and felt certain it would earn five stars. Then I read the last two chapters. I'm not sure if the author was trying to live up to the title of the book or if there was plans for a sequel. Either way, the ending was less than satisfactory. Some of the minor characters seemed to gain better closure than the main characters. I stuck with the four star rating because Haines did an excellent job blending the elements of mystery and paranormal fiction. Ms. Hain ...more
Dana
Nov 10, 2013 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still thinking about all the twists and turns in this book. Note ***SPOILER*** I still can't figure out if Lucas knew his wife, Marlena was cheating before........... I don't think he did but Marlena's mother did and if you read the book you know what she did. Here is my question if you can answer it. Does anyone think that Lucas found out what his mother-in-law did? Why did Junior visit his house? Dotty saw him there and but 2 + 2 together somewhat. I did not like Dotty at first but I wish ther ...more
Francis
Small town Southern. So ... you get some small town lore, some sex, some violence ...just like anyplace else, some racism like other places only more so, well, more so, plus we are talking the fifties or sixties here. Overall a pretty decent story with a different ending.
Nikki
May 14, 2014 Nikki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was just okay. I enjoyed the fact that it was set in MS and so I recognized most of the town and county names, and the characters were sort of interesting. However, the ending seemed very rushed and honestly I didn't really get a sense of closure for the story.
Jim
May 07, 2013 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book feels very much like a movie. That is not really a compliment, but not quite a put down either. It is very much a thriller, perhaps a half step above a b movie. The author did try to give me a feel for many of her characters, but I did not really feel like I really knew that much about them despite the ghost stories and flashes of insight. But she did weave the stories together well and really held the tension of multiple threads into the big storm quite well. So overall, it is a good ...more
Pat
Dec 03, 2015 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Fine piece of genre-writing and southern lit. Loved the book until the very end.

Hated the ending - a low note of melodramatic and unlikely silliness.
Sharron Shimbel
Jan 20, 2012 Sharron Shimbel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-kindle
Enjoyed is not the right word for my feelings about this book as the theme is disturbingly real and troublesome. Though set in the period after World War 11 and in an atmosphere of racial turmoil, there were many instances where I was reminded of situations that in my experience still exist. The story, told from the point of view of Jade, the local hairdresser is beautifully written and the characters are full complexities. The mystery is not complex but the dynamics of the characters is well ex ...more
Christine
Jan 25, 2016 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inbreeding, mis-breeing, greed, small town Sodom and Gomorrah with a dash of rape and murder.
Joggingt
May 10, 2016 Joggingt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite different from the "bone" series. Equally good with mystery and a bit of supernatural
Margaret Drake
Fast moving story of SE Mississippi. Many twists and turns of the culture.
Stephanie
Jan 26, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haines explores the themes of racism, greed, depravity and family bonds all in a small Southern town. Though the writing is top notch in Penumbra there is no "happy ever after" to be found within its pages. Instead you'll find a book rich with descriptive, poetic language and infused with memorable characters like Jade and Melona, half-sisters divided by race lines and an entire town's willingness to keep a secret unspoken.

I found this novel both powerful and disturbing and though the ending wa
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Stephanie Clarke
Loved the ebb and flow , easy read, twist and turns
Janice H. Moore
Mystery,supernatural, elements of evil and treachery in a small town.
Karen
Oct 11, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love her "Bones" series and this one was just as good!
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Did Lucas know what his mother-in-law did?? 1 2 Nov 10, 2013 08:48PM  
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A native of Mississippi, Carolyn Haines is the author of over fifty books in multiple genres. She was named the 2010 recipient of the Harper Lee Award and is the recipient of the 2009 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

Haines teaches fiction writing at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Active in animal rescue, she has twenty-one "critters" —horses, dogs and cats.
More about Carolyn Haines...

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