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Penumbra

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  637 Ratings  ·  83 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
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Minotaur Books
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☺~Tina~☺
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Kimberly Fisher
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I got through it. It was ok, but wasn’t my favorite. Interesting perspective on that time, so I did enjoy that aspect of the book and writing.
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
...more
Carmen Slaughter
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Colleen
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ginger
Oct 08, 2011 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!
Emily
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Richard Philbrick
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Julia Spencer-Fleming
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was ok
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.
Kasey
Mar 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I got this as a Nook-Free-Friday book a long, long time ago and finally decided to read it. It was pretty interesting overall, but very dark. I really don't know how else to describe it. Some of the scenes were very vivid and graphic, and heavy. I had to take breaks to digest the information and maintain my happiness lol This was not a pleasant book by any means. The ending was a bit predictable, but I do appreciate that the author made sure to weave in all the pieces.
Christy
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
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
...more
Gina
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
...more
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
Dana
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sharron Shimbel
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jim
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Michelle
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't particularly like thrillers, I don't even like mysteries because they are all normally written the same. This, however knocked my socks off. Where has Carolyn Haines been all my life? I am just blown away by her writing. She took something so usually boring and cliché and turned into a spine tingling, OMG what is going to happen next kind of story. There are so many stories inter-tangled with each other and that worked out beautifully. I am defiantly looking forward to more of her writin ...more
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
...more
Stephanie
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Sue Ross
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What an intense mystery. Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. Penumbra was a totally different type of mystery. You get to see the "dark side" of Carolyn in this one and even some reminders of the way things used to be. Loved the characters, well most of them. There were a few who got what they had coming. If you love or even like Carolyn's books, you will enjoy this one as well.
Brandi
Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book several years ago as an Advanced Reader's Copy. I loved it from the very beginning to the end. I had never read anythign by this author before and I hear that this book was actually a step away from her usual fare; I only wish that people had caught on to this one. I wanted there to be a sequel so bad that I kept looking for a follow-up for years. i hope that Haines does produce another book like this one.
Teresa
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this one in a day. It is a gripping mystery set in the deep south after WWII. It is often disturbing and definitely more than a little scary. Her depiction of the racism and predjudice of that time makes the book even more frightening. I gave it four stars because to me, the ending seemed a little rushed and left many unanswered questions. Is a sequel coming? It feels like there could be one to follow.
Robyn
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent mystery novel. The characters were all deep and beleivable. The story line was exciting, and well planned. There was not one scene or line that screamed 'mystery cliche' or was lame. This is not even true from my favorie mystery novelists, James Patterson and Kathy Reichs. I am looking forward to reading more from this author, and would definately recommend this book to others.
Jill
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredibly frustrating. It was poorly written. THe author just described the lives of the characters in short choppy sentences. The dialogue was TERRIBLE. It was like a 10th grader had to write a book for an english class and came up with this crap. I was often alarmed when a character spoke because it was completely unnatural.

I won't be reading anything by Carolyn Hines again.

Check out my full scathing review at http://abookofadifferentcolor.blogspo...
Rachel
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is well written- though a little depressing for my taste- the books revolves around a lot of characters that are just plain evil- there are a few characters that the reader can relate to and cheer for- but there is so little hope within these pages- if I were just rating the quality of writing and plot- I would give it four stars- but with the depressing story line, for me, a three is the best I can do.
Renee Pawlish
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm actually giving this 2 1/2 stars. The book was decent, and I admire Haines ability to turn a phrase, but I agree with others that the ending left a lot to be desired. It didn't wrap up well and that was a letdown. Still, I did like some of the characters and the feel for the South came through strong.
Amy
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
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Did Lucas know what his mother-in-law did?? 1 2 Nov 10, 2013 08:48PM  
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878 followers
Carolyn Haines is the USA Today bestselling author of over 70 books. She was the recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, as well as the "Best Amateur Sleuth" award by Romantic Times. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of.
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