Murders on Martha's Vineyard take a local policeman into the dark heart of a political campaign—in a police thriller by the author of Ark (1985). Similarities to real-life events in Massachusetts vacationland begin with the energetic but adulterous coupling of a pair of enthusiastic political-campaign workers. However, the candidate whose rhetoric excited the about-to-be murdered couple is not the heavyset party animal of tabloid fame. It is Timothy Murphy, the charismatic senator from Indiana, a one-time POW in Vietnam with a fair chance of knocking out America's incumbent vice-president in the upcoming elections. The couple were murdered by someone keen on retrieving the last roll of film shot by one of the victims, and it seems to be the only evidence of Senator Murphy's secret—but apparently innocuous—meeting with an unknown woman. Martha's Vineyard's underfinanced little police force has all it can do to keep up with the influx of tourists and can ill spare the time island native Eric Thorne must spend on the investigation, but Thorne persists, linking himself professionally and pleasurably with Lorraine Patton, Murphy's admiring biographer. The much-sought snapshot comes into Thorne's hands and poses an interesting question: How could it be that the senator's famous POW tattoo comes and goes? The answer lies ultimately in the Bahamas, where rotten CIA agents lurk, Murphy's reclusive billionaire backer hides in his mansion, and a never terribly famous movie beauty ponders Murphy's secrets. Full of action, but the senator's scandalous secret will surprise very few readers. It will irritate many.

Pub Date: July 31, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-93318-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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