A whirlwind of drugs, derelicts and diabolical melodrama.

METH FOR LESS

AN AMBROSE STRYKER ADVENTURE

A big-hearted Nebraskan and his close friend wade through a town corrupted by meth-addicted crazies.

Prell (Ka-Ching: The Repository of Universal Wisdoms, 2007), a former award-winning, nationally syndicated radio journalist, sets his murder mystery in Lincoln, Neb., a town he calls “a cesspool of crime and depravity.” The description seems apt as a deadly methamphetamine lab explosion blows “tweaker” Roy Swartz Jr.’s body into thin air. It’s a common local occurrence to Ambrose Stryker, a disfigured Iraq War veteran and corn farmer, who, together with best buddy “Stub” Stubinskie, Stryker dreams of ridding the town of this epidemic. Meanwhile, dopey speed-freak miscreants Alphonse “Big A” Beemer and Gilmore “Happy” Gilruth hatch a plan to rob a bank, but end up in jail, only to make bigger plans to transport legal meth-producing chemicals out of town. Stryker, who continues to be haunted by his harsh time in the war, becomes more annoyed than concerned about Ashed “Barry” McFarland, a shifty Iraqi taxi driver he’d met abroad and has now shows up in Polk County unannounced and desperate, “much like a virus that results in a bad cold.” McFarland gets arrested after inadvertently driving Big A and Happy around and good guy Stryker retains lusty attorney Lara Lynn Lundstrom to assist, but she’s got more than a few secrets to hide. Prell keeps the action moving and adds more shady characters to the mix, such as Reno-based drug dealer Bobette “Footsie” Kravitz and Ernst Leidke, an aging hustler servicing Lincoln’s older female demographic. The body count rises as Barry, now a key witness to the drug action, fears for his life. It’s up to Stryker and Stub to ferret out the dealers from the do-gooders and snare a few hot dates for themselves along the way. Incorporating DNA battles, lesbian drug dealers, grave-robbed bodies and explosions galore, Prell delivers humor-infused tension through an unwieldy assortment of ragtag, potty-mouthed characters. Stryker makes for a compelling protagonist; can a sequel be far behind?

A whirlwind of drugs, derelicts and diabolical melodrama.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0984558605

Page Count: 286

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2011

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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