DOUBLE EDGE

Leuci's first police procedural set away from N.Y.C. (where he served as a cop for 20 years: Captain Butterfly, Odessa Beach, etc.) turns out to be his best—an acrid, tangled tale of a cop's hunt for a crazed killer among the high and low of the nation's capital. Scott Ancelet, 40, is the D.C. detective who swears to get the ``beast'' who cut the throat of an unidentified teenage male prostitute, then masturbated on the body and left it in a local park. Aided by his partner, ``Big Mo'' Parks, Scott turns for clues to his main snitch, Cotton Mouth Johnson, an aging hooker-turned- crack-dealer/addict. Cotton can tell Scott little, but her pathetic, doomed struggle to escape a sadistic drug kingpin (to whom she owes money—the story's major subplot) compellingly burrows the action down into D.C.'s criminal underworld, detailed with a stinging grit that contrasts well with the upscale splendors enjoyed by beautiful black councilwoman Tamron Highseat and her husband, Philip—who finally identify the victim as Tamron's no- good nephew. Scott, a cop who lives on the edge—smoking and wenching his way into major heart trouble—instantly falls in lust for Tamron, even as Big Mo falls compassionately in love with Cotton. Amidst this smoky intrigue, violence flares out in a second, blackly comic subplot involving a pot dealer whose wife harpoons a rookie detective—and then the intrigue rushes back, denser still, as Scott follows the killer's trail into a den of pedophiles headed by Philip Highseat and a politically powerful contra general—and into an ultraviolent climax. Despite the familiar cast—the burned-out cop, the gold- hearted whore, etc.—a fast and nasty tale, told in snappy prose and reeking with the hard truths and stink of the streets.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-93383-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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