This first installment chronicling the adventures of Maj. Jacob Kelly turns out to be an undisputed success.

Falcon Down

From the Falcon Series series , Vol. 1

An Air Force pilot with a few skills not in his official dossier finds himself on the run in a hostile nation in the first thriller of this trilogy.

It’s 1986, and Maj. Jacob “Falcon” Kelly is at the top of his game. A capable fighter jock, Kelly gets recruited into a top-secret program that requires more than just flight abilities. These proficiencies, as well as the fluency in Russian he kept secret from the Air Force to avoid intelligence postings, come in handy when he is shot down over the Bering Strait and whisked off to a debriefing center deep inside the Soviet Union for interrogation and eventual liquidation. He befriends a fellow Russian-speaking prisoner named Oswald Simmons (“everyone just calls me Oz”), a scientist, and they use Morse code to secretly communicate. Before long, Kelly spots an opportunity to flee. He tells Oz about his escape plan: “Gonna check out and find a different hotel. Don’t care for the amenities here.” Oz eagerly offers the dubious Kelly his assistance (“Need some help with your luggage? Take me with you! I can be handy in a scrap”). Soon all of Kelly’s talents and knowledge that the Soviets didn’t know about get used against them, as the body count spirals upward and he comes ever closer to achieving his goal. Cobb (Falcon Strike, 2014, etc.) has clearly done his research on multiple counts and, like Tom Clancy or Dale Brown, masterly intertwines military technology and behavior into a tightly plotted narrative in which every development follows logically and smoothly from what came before. This deft touch extends to the characters: Kelly, while remaining supremely adept, makes mistakes and gets frustrated in his efforts to run, making him more relatable than a stereotypical Special Forces operative. And the primary antagonists, such as Maj. Gen. Chernikov, are not cartoonishly evil monsters but professional military figures with doubts and misgivings of their own. Occasionally, Cobb slips in a little heavy-handed religious material, but except for one instance where a professor’s conversion story told to Kelly edges into proselytizing, the author manages to keep most of the Christian-themed material relevant to the story and characters.

This first installment chronicling the adventures of Maj. Jacob Kelly turns out to be an undisputed success.

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9848875-1-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doorway Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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