A solid addition to the Western genre and a satisfying conclusion to a vigilante series.

The Ghost at Beaverhead Rock

From the The Vigilante Quartet series , Vol. 4

A Montana Territory lawyer must solve a murder to save his family and salvage his good name.

The final installment of Buchanan’s (Gold Under Ice, 2010, etc.) Vigilante Quartet examines the evolution of Daniel Stark. He made his fortune and settled his father’s debts. Despite some hesitation, he returns to the newly created Montana Territory to wed his lover, Martha McDowell, raise her children, and establish a law practice. To his surprise, Martha is pregnant with his child, and Stark is now the prime suspect in the murder of her first husband. Stark must find the killer so he can clear his name and avoid the hangman’s noose. Luckily, the territory has gained some semblance of civilization in Stark’s absence. Taxes have been levied, a jail has been constructed, and a new chief justice imposes law and order, instructing the vigilantes to hang up their spurs. While Stark is happy to get out of the vigilante business, he remains haunted by the past. He is unable to escape the memories of vigilante hangings, and the smelly specter of a hanged man shadows Stark’s every move. While fending off a ghost and hunting a murderer are more than enough to keep him occupied, Stark gets drawn into another contentious battle: the creation of the territory’s new and vital mining laws. Buchanan offers a murder mystery that is set during a formative time in Montana’s history. It is an absorbing period, when the laws were unclear and so much rested on their creation and enforcement. The story is based on true events, and the author wisely populates the town of Virginia City with characters that really lived or are modeled on those who did (such as Stark). Stark is a compelling, complicated hero, one of several finely drawn characters who bring the Old West to life. Buchanan’s devotion to research is apparent throughout the novel, in detailed conversations between miners about the benefits of using Common Law rather than the Idaho statutes or references to inescapable political conflicts that arise from the continuing Civil War.

A solid addition to the Western genre and a satisfying conclusion to a vigilante series.

Pub Date: May 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9864203-0-6

Page Count: 538

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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