A crime fiction novel and a guide to workplace diversity – two new reviews from Cardyn Brooks

Tied to Deceit by Neena H. Brar
Penguide Books 6 August 2018
contemporary (ca. 1970s) fiction, mystery thriller

This tangle web of intrigue, double-crosses, and romantic disappointments spins across northern India from (fictional?) Sanover to Guwahati, Chamba, Dongri, and various destinations dotted between River Ravi, the Himalayas, and the Arabian Sea. Those dots link to form threads that spool outward from the 20-plus-year marriage of Gayatri Bhardwaj and Rajinder Bhardwaj in this tale about the infinite varieties of being two-faced in a society shaped by double standards that are dictated primarily according to caste, gender, age, physical appearance, marital and parental status rather than by actual character traits like honesty and ethical disposition.

At first, the choice of the 1970s context may seem odd, but the interweaving of themes of feminist and anti-feminist frictions, traditional versus progressive conflicts, and generational sparring with quotes from literary notables to set the tone for each chapter establish obvious comparisons between then and now. Shouldn’t society in India (and the world) have evolved further beyond prioritizing the superficial appearance of women and the financial resources of men in calculating their value?

As if a mildly sedated Patricia Highsmith had written Peyton Place with input from Gillian Flynn, the three acts in this morality play start with a briskly paced setup in Book One. Adding more players in Book Two noticeably slows the narrative tempo until it regains speed toward its conclusion in Book Three. The glossary is convenient, although the meanings of the italicized words are easy to understand when reading them in context.

Tied to Deceit establishes the investigative team of Superintendent of Police Sharma, his deputies Rawat and Diwakar with the potential to launch an engaging series in the tradition that blends Inspector Maigret’s intuition with Sharon McCone’s persistence in following each and every crumb of evidence wherever they lead.  More info at neenabrar.com.

Women, Minorities & Other Extraordinary People by Dr. Barbara B. Adams
Greenleaf Book Group Press 18 September 2018
non-fiction, business & investing

Fear not! Privileged people are not vilified and underrepresented people are not heroic in Women, Minorities & Other Extraordinary People. Everyone is portrayed as flawed humans. In the spirit of W. Kamau Bell’s “Totally Biased” and his current “United Shades of America” show, Dr. Adams uses some humor and a non-confrontational manner in this practical guidebook to help institutions and individuals navigate the professionally treacherous and emotionally fraught terrain of human differences in the 21st-century workplace.

The author’s ultimate goal is declared on page 4:

My mission is to advance a new path for workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion, by embracing all of the complex multidimensional layers we bring to the workplace.

Dr. Adams uses a layperson-friendly distillation of brain science to explain automatic thought processes as a reflexive system, and conscious, deliberate control as a reflective system with approximately 90% of human thoughts and actions falling into the reflexive category. Zikes! It’s no wonder why changing discriminatory behaviors in individuals, families, communities, businesses, and societies is so challenging, but not impossible as generations of human and civil rights victories around the world have shown over the course of human existence.

With a focus on brutally honest self-awareness and strategies for changing behaviors in order to transform workplaces from homogeneous melting pots of coerced assimilation into vibrant tossed salads (my modification of the author’s analogy) of cooperative, dynamic innovation and maximum profit, the introduction, five chapters, conclusion, FAQs, critical skills list, references, notes, and index in Women, Minorities & Other Extraordinary People all interlock theory, scientific research, and anecdotal observations with critical thinking exercises and practical applications for intentionally creating a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion. Each chapter ends with a quick summary and action steps. The conclusion section summarizes each of the five chapters.

Multiple references to the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity survey are among the many links to self-evaluation tools, professional organizations, and scientific research data, making Women, Minorities & Other Extraordinary People a portable compendium for anyone who’s interested in supporting respectful conversation and actions to make diversity and inclusion the new normal.

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Cardyn Brooks is a reading fiend, compulsive writer, chocoholic, and swim enthusiast. She writes upbeat, diversity-is-mainstream contemporary erotic fiction for and about grown-ups in love. Her previous titles include Seducing the Burks: Five Erotic Tales and Dodging Eros, Through Past, Present and Pleasure. In spring 2018, When She’s on Top, a collection of four novellas about powerful women and the men who are strong enough to love them, written as her edgier persona of C. X Brooks, will be available in print and e-formats from BlackOpalBooks.com. She earned her B.A. in English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A.

Find Cardyn Brooks on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, SheWrites, Smashwords, Tumblr, and on Twitter and Instagram @CardynBpresents.


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