Given the number of fat clues trial lawyer Hollon (The God File, 2002) scatters along the way, the surprise ending is hardly...

A THIN DIFFERENCE

For over 30 years, Jack Skinner has been a criminal defense lawyer in southern Alabama, but now he’s on the skids. Three ex-wives have bled him so dry he can’t pay his loyal secretary Rose, let alone the rent. Just two things keep him going: the love of courtroom confrontations, and the whiskey in the bottom drawer. When new client Brad Caine offers five grand in cash for expenses, Jack grabs it; nor is he fazed by the diamond necklace Brad wants to unload. Two days later, it’s revealed that the necklace belonged to Haddie Charles, a rich old lady murdered in her home, and Brad is charged with the crime, though he claims convincingly to have been set up, and Jack’s gut also tells him he’s innocent, the prosecution’s case being entirely circumstantial. Still, Jack has more on his plate than a high-profile murder; his drug-addicted “baby girl” Kelly, now 28, needs his help, much to the disgust of her older sister Becky, who believes Kelly’s drug habit is a reaction to Jack’s molesting her as a child—at one point even engages him in hand-to-hand combat. So it seems that while his many other equally seedy genre ancestors had a rock-bottom integrity, Jack may be the exception. By now it’s time for the trial, and Hollon largely lets the transcripts do the talking, which is okay until the Alice in Wonderland denouement turns courtroom procedures inside out.

Given the number of fat clues trial lawyer Hollon (The God File, 2002) scatters along the way, the surprise ending is hardly that. In all, a depressing, stereotype-heavy story, though it does move at a good clip.

Pub Date: March 12, 2003

ISBN: 1-931561-27-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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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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