FLOOD TIDE

Dirk Pitt returns for his 11th undersea adventure (Shock Wave, 1996, etc.), still as far out and full of derring-do as ever. Along with arms and drugs, Qui Shang, the fourth richest man in the world, smuggles Chinese by the millions into the US, Canada, and Europe. In the near future, the US population is edging toward 360 million, and it begins to seem likely that Chinese will control the West Coast from San Francisco to Alaska. A divided America looms—but, then, no civilization lasts forever. Unless, of course, it has a steady succession of Dirk Pitts to call on for help. Here, Pitt, vacationing on Orion Lake near Seattle, discovers that the frigid lake is a warehouse for thousands of dead Chinese, those who were too infirm to be sold as slaves by Qui Shang or used as prostitutes. Qui Shang has bought much of the US government, including the president, as well as top men in the People's Republic of China. And now, just as Pitt begins to pick up his trail, it turns out he's working on his biggest operation yet. He has built a multibillion-dollar port above New Orleans for no visible economic reason, though in fact he uses it to unload illegals—and also has far more ambitious plans for it. He and his henchmen have devised a plan to divert the Mississippi back into its former bed, thus creating a catastrophe that will give his company a gigantic shipping advantage by sending New Orleans the way of Atlantis. Pitt and his friends at the National Underwater and Marine Agency all but single-handedly uncover Qui Shang's plots by spying on him with submersibles, and little by little they begin to unravel his conspiracy, even recovering some sunken Chinese art treasures (sent abroad by Chiang Kai-shek), essential to the master criminal's plans, before Qui Shang can get them. Speedy storytelling and great fun.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-80298-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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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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