A briskly paced thriller that deftly imagines a nightmare scenario.

The Gambit

A debut political thriller that pits Israeli and U.S. military forces against an Iranian government on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As the United States attempts to neutralize Iran’s march toward nuclear capability with economic sanctions and diplomacy, a battle-hardened Israeli government takes a more aggressive tactical approach. It deploys a devastating computer virus, assassinates key Iranian nuclear scientists, and prepares to relocate its top source of insider intelligence, Dr. Ali Bagheri Kani, the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, to Israel by staging a fake assassination. The operation is conducted by an elite Israeli unit, the Sayeret Matkal, which answers to Gen. Tamir Pardo, the head of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. American Col. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is recruited to join the team; he’s a decorated Special Forces soldier attached to the CIA who has a doctorate in Persian studies. After Bagheri is successfully extricated from Iran, he confirms the Israelis’ worst fears: Iran is considerably closer to a nuclear weapon than they thought. Israeli authorities decide to stage a daring attack on several Iranian nuclear facilities, and alert the United States so that its Navy can prepare for battle in the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile, the Iranians, who’ve prepared for years for such an eventuality, initiate a bold response, designed to exploit America’s domestic vulnerabilities. Author Carlson’s plotline is as chilling as it is gripping; his brand of cynical realism has a level of plausibility that’s both impressive and disturbing. There’s no shortage of skillfully rendered military action, and Carlson’s meticulous research into the military and political aspects of his subject matter is extraordinary. Jackson, as a character, sometimes seems overly picturesque: he’s handsome, athletically fit, endlessly brave, charming, hyper-educated—and still impossibly modest, despite it all. One of the highlights of the novel, though, is its depiction of the Iranian side, as it ably articulates their zealotry without robbing them of humanity. For example, Carlson pithily captures the moral psychology of an Iranian colonel: “He was not a killer, as such, and did not enjoy killing merely for the sake of killing. No, Rafsanjani wanted to punish America as a whole.” This is an exciting debut effort that’s certain to interest readers with a taste for contemporary political intrigue.

A briskly paced thriller that deftly imagines a nightmare scenario.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9982594-9-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2016

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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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