A somewhat formulaic story, enlivened by amiable characters and a robust setting.



The latest romantic mystery from Pettersen (Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash, 2012, etc.) involves the disappearance of an aspiring jockey.

Twenty-something Megan Spence is somewhat older than many of her fellow classmates at jockey school, but she doesn’t let that deter her from her secret aim: to investigate the recent disappearance of her brother, Joey, from the school a few weeks prior. Megan goes through the exhausting paces along with everyone else, from grooming to track riding to classwork. One of her instructors is the strappingly handsome Scott Taylor, who also happens to be a private investigator. Sparks fly between Megan and Scott from the moment they meet, but Megan’s private, independent spirit prevents her from revealing her secret. It doesn’t help matters that Scott’s close friend is Garrett Baldwin, the head of the school. According to Baldwin, Joey was a drug addict who quit the school and disappeared. But although Joey had issues with drugs earlier in his life, Megan knew that he was now clean. Megan’s relationship with Scott heats up, but she doesn’t know how far to trust him. Scott hides a heartbreaking past experience with a drug-taking fiancée, and when he finds heroin that’s been planted in Megan’s bag, he jumps to the wrong conclusion. Soon Megan is trapped in a life-threatening situation with a Mexican drug cartel, and Scott must conquer his inner demons in order to find her before it’s too late. Pettersen devotes many pages to Scott’s and Megan’s psychological musings, but readers may feel these ruminations slow the plot’s otherwise enjoyably rapid pace. Pettersen sticks to familiar genre patterns, and mystery and romance fans may find the plot contains few surprises, although the author’s detailed descriptions of the racing atmosphere brighten the story. She deftly develops the relationship between Megan and Scott, even if their relationship suffers from an overabundance of simple misunderstandings—although for many readers, that may simply add to the fun.

A somewhat formulaic story, enlivened by amiable characters and a robust setting.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0988115125

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Westerhall

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2013

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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