Part mystery, part religious debate, this old-fashioned, well-written novel is wholly entertaining.

PEACEKEEPER

An English detective investigates a homicide that has supernatural implications and leads to a mysterious organization and the ultimate battle between good and evil.

In Exeter, England, DI Cecilia Cavaliere investigates the death of John Cox, a young teacher. She quickly finds that his murder is connected to the mysterious Academy for Philosophical Studies, whose chairman is secretly in league with the devil. At the same time, at nearby R.A.F. Harlsden, Capt. Lancelot Scott, of the 92nd Missile Wing of the U.S.A.F., is unaware that the deadly Peacekeeper nuclear missiles under his command are part of the chairman’s plot to jump-start World War III. When her investigation leans toward the supernatural, Cecilia feels out of her depth, but fortunately, she receives help from religious scholar and Anglican priest Michael Aarons, a friend of her father’s, and Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, a mysterious Jesuit. In the end, it comes down to the ultimate confrontation between good and evil, as Cavaliere and Aarons face off against the chairman and a satanic consultant from the Infernal City. In this sequel to the author’s Siding Star (2012), it’s fairly obvious how things will turn out, but since the characters are created with such intelligence, readers will nonetheless want to stick around to find out what fate has in store for them. A hint of romance between Cavaliere and Aarons provides additional interest in the story’s outcome. The author, an Anglican priest, writes authoritatively when it comes to religion, though he also entertains with details about how homicide investigations are run and how a missile installation works. He is, however, at his most eloquent when describing the nature of spirituality: “The universe is a dance….And we were created to be part of it,” says the mysterious Spee. At moments like this, this novel is much more than the sum of its parts.

Part mystery, part religious debate, this old-fashioned, well-written novel is wholly entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0985391133

Page Count: 328

Publisher: The Diamond Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2014

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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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