An exciting read that should appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen, espionage thrillers and caper comedies.

GITMO

In Waid and Corridan’s debut novel, an ex-convict’s attempt to get back on his feet in his home base of Miami results in an unexpected and illegal expedition to Cuba.

Dixon Sweeney is not having a good week. He returns home from years of incarceration to discover that his house and wife are gone, the latter having left him for his best friend. To add insult to injury, a local gang leader threatens to kill Sweeney unless he repays the $65,000 he claims Sweeney owes him. So when an old Cuban associate of his deceased father approaches Sweeney and offers him a half-million dollars to smuggle his granddaughter out of Cuba, the desperate man reluctantly agrees, setting off a life-changing chain of events. Waid and Corridan have constructed a tightly written, extremely entertaining caper with an engaging, witty protagonist. The story deftly balances comedy and suspense, with Sweeney wryly narrating his increasingly bizarre situation in a self-deprecating voice. As outrageous and funny as the novel’s events can be, however, the authors ground their tale and characters in emotional reality. The desperation that drives Sweeney and Maria, the woman he rescues, maintains verisimilitude, even during the story’s most action-packed moments. The same can be said of the authors’ fully realized depictions of Cuba and Guantanamo Bay, which lend plausibility to the novel’s far-fetched turns, particularly regarding the unfolding love story. The novel also delivers several masterful twists that seem simultaneously shocking and, in retrospect, inevitable. In a few spots (one, unfortunately, is in a final scene), the narrative’s excellence is briefly undermined by juvenile prison-rape humor, but that aside, it’s an appealing, satirical, action-tinged adventure.

An exciting read that should appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen, espionage thrillers and caper comedies.

Pub Date: June 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943402-63-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Down & Out Books

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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