A fast-paced, suspenseful story notwithstanding the somewhat perplexing villainous plan.


In Irons’ debut thriller, a former soldier and his fellow Army Rangers face off against a group involved in a string of child abductions.

Brett Moore and his wife, Riley, are ready for a visit with Brett’s brother, Ethan, and Ethan’s family. But their rendezvous at an ordinary American mall takes an unexpected turn when a fire alarm goes off and Brett spots someone running off with his 2-year-old nephew, Cameron. His pursuit becomes a scuffle with multiple assailants, and both Brett and Cameron wind up as abductees. The FBI, anticipating a ransom demand, is on the case, most notably agent Wade Scott, who served in the Army with Brett. Feds learn of other missing children, and Wade has startling information for Riley: Brett’s time with the Rangers included a particularly violent incident. To escape his current captivity, he may have to resort to a darker side of himself and, therefore, not return as the same man Riley married. Meanwhile, Brett befriends Gwen, one of his captors whose young daughter is also a hostage. She can free him of his restraints, but he’ll still have to track down Cameron, with whom the kidnappers have fled. Brett has his Ranger brothers for help against a long list of baddies, some of whom are crooked law enforcers. While at first glance this has a typical kidnapping plot, Irons gradually develops a mystery. For example, there’s much more behind the abductions than ransoms, and not every villain is immediately known. Characters are likewise multidimensional, from sympathetic Gwen to the protagonist, who, as feared, becomes more vicious and bloodthirsty. The author’s succinct, unadorned prose makes for brisk action scenes, which include more than one capable woman, although the Rangers are exclusively male. The story does, however, falter in the villains’ motivations. While their ultimate goal is perfectly clear, some things are harder to understand, such as why they abduct one character’s wife as “leverage” without letting the husband know they’ve taken her or what they want from him. 

A fast-paced, suspenseful story notwithstanding the somewhat perplexing villainous plan. 

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73349-760-2

Page Count: 2019

Publisher: Pants-Free For Life

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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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