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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 1 year, 3 months ago

19 February 2019 THE BLACK COATS by Colleen Oakes, Harper Teen, February 2019. 400p., ISBN: 978-0-06-267962-8


Last week, CNN reported a Valentine’s Day message from America’s best-known convicted serial date rapist:


“In his first public statement from prison, Bill Cosby said he will never have remorse for his crimes and called himself a political prisoner.‘My political beliefs, my actions of trying to humanize all races, genders and religions landed me in this place surrounded by barb wire fencing, a room made of steel and iron,’ the comedian said in a statement released through his press spokesman, Andrew Wyatt.Cosby, 81, also noted that his cell at SCI Phoenix, the prison outside Philadelphia where he is serving his sentence, ‘resembles the quarters of some of the Greatest Political Prisoners -- Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Randal Robinson, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis.’"

If that’s supposed to be comedy, I don’t get it.

“It was me

And a gun

And a man

On my back

And I sang ‘Holly Holy’

As he buttoned down his pants”

-- Tori Amos “Me and a Gun” (1991)


“The target’s name was Jonathan Samper, and he worked at an upscale farm-to-table eatery called Pear, near downtown Austin. They parked Mirabelle’s car outside the restaurant right before closing time.

‘They are going to hate us. People who come to restaurants right before closing time are the worst,’ muttered Louise.

Casey shook her head. ‘Only you would worry about being polite during a Balancing.’ She turned to Thea. ‘Do you have everything?’

Thea nodded, pulling a tiny black vial out of her pocket. ‘One powdered dose of Rohypnol, generously supplied by the luminaries.’

According to their Balancing sheet, twenty-one-year-old Jonathan Samper had been accused of drugging and date-raping not one but two of his girlfriends. Because they didn’t go to the police immediately, there was no physical evidence to charge him. He remained in good standing both at school and at work, while the two women he raped suffered the shame of their reputations. That was all about to change.

Team Banner was dressed nicely today; under their Black Coats they each wore a dressy outfit to blend in at Pear. A bunch of girls all dressed in head-to-toe black would have drawn attention, and that was the last thing they needed.

‘This is on Mademoiselle Corday, right?’ asked Casey, standing at the door. ‘I looked at the menu last night and it’s pretty pricey.’

Thea nodded. ‘Yes, but don’t go crazy. No duck. Sandwiches all around.’

‘Or salads!’ suggested Mirabelle cheerfully.

Thea’s fingers curled around the vial in her dress pocket. She was nervous, and the setting sun was beating down on her coat. She couldn’t stop seeing Drew’s disappointed face in her mind. ‘Let’s do this, Team Banner.’”


Mirabelle has the face. Thea runs fast. Casey’s strengths are driving and computer hacking. Louise is a black belt. And Bea has stellar hypnotizing skills. Together they are Team Banner, five high school girls who are on a mission to disable known predators and abusers of women. Their targets are criminals who have evaded the arrests and convictions that they deserve.


The team members were recruited by the Luminaries of the Black Coats, a secret organization, of which Team Banner is a part. Each girl has a  heartbreaking reason to be a Black Coats member. They have been trained, as a team, to complete the Balancings, actions designed to avenge past crimes and ensure that their targets will no longer be a threat to women. Those in charge, who draw up and assign the Balancings, are clever in their plans to uncover and humiliate their quarry. It’s much more about justice and keeping other women safe than it is about revenge.


Not that revenge isn’t deserved and undoubtedly satisfying!


There are so many great twists and surprises in this topically relevant, #metoo era, YA thriller. Thea, the main character, gets herself in quite a bit of a bind, falling for a good guy at school and then having to hide her time-consuming, secret alter-identity from Drew. Not knowing what is going to arise next in terms of school, parents, boyfriend, or the organization, I found that the four hundred pages of following Thea flew by way too quickly.


The only thing more I could ask for--perhaps with a bit of luck and magic--is that Thea and her team eventually meet up with with a certain unapologetic pussy grabber and give him his due.


Fortunately, Bill Cosby is already where he belongs.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Pickshttp://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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