A gripping but overly contrived story of corruption and deception.

ACCIDENTAL ENCOUNTERS

Following a botched attempt to defuse an escalating hostage crisis, three men, each with his own hidden agenda, are held captive in a room together in Friesen’s debut novel.

American attorney Dave Bigelow is in Mexico City to perform a routine bank audit when he swears he sees his New Yorker brother, Bob, stepping out of a bank. Dave chalks it up to a case of mistaken identity and goes on with his day. However, it was Bob, who’s in the city to deliver a briefcase of ransom money in exchange for Demir Ozmen, a fellow Ottoman Trading Company employee who’s being held captive by a Mexican drug cartel. Meanwhile, a rival cartel raids a church in the midst of a wedding and starts killing attendees one by one, saying that they’ll continue to do so until the other cartel releases Ozmen. When Dave sees Bob again in a crowded restaurant, he knows that he is, in fact, his sibling. Dave pursues him when he leaves the restaurant, and men abduct them both and throw them into a room with Ozmen. As the hours tick by, the captives attempt to determine why each of them is being held prisoner and try to figure out a means of escape. The author soon brings other characters into the mix—politicians, businessmen, professors, drug runners—and, as true allegiances are revealed, the mystery becomes more complex. Later, characters travel the globe, from Mexico to Turkey to Greece to Canada. Overall, Friesen delivers an often thrilling tale, and he makes sure that no one gets away clean as the story hurtles toward an inevitable, tragic conclusion. That said, the main characters seem to always be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. The narrative tries to justify such fortuitous encounters by attributing them to fate. However, Friesen never earnestly explores this notion, so readers may find these occurrences to be a little too convenient to be believable.

A gripping but overly contrived story of corruption and deception.

Pub Date: June 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984522-63-4

Page Count: 318

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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