BLOODY MARKO

The history of a war criminal is revealed in reverse, beginning with his trial in today's disintegrating Yugoslavia and ending with the Austrian invasion of his childhood village. This captivating story by the author of White Rook (1990) and The Murder of Frau Schutz (1988) is told in a series of disconnected episodes in the life of Marko Renovich, who, as Mark Renault, has been extradited from the US to Yugoslavia, where he is believed to have been ``Bloody Marko,'' a WW II Nazi collaborator famed for his ruthless brutality to members of the resistance. Renovich's prosecutor is Esma Smilovich, a Moslem woman whose repulsion for the unrepentant old man becomes increasingly obsessive as the trial progresses to its climax in a horrifying encounter with a demented woman from Marko's past. Surely this is one of the worst men who ever lived. But nothing is sure except the complexity of Marko's relationships with women—ranging from the prosecutor to the wife of a Nazi general to his beautiful childhood sweetheart. Equally complex is Marko's relationship with his grindingly poor country—as well as with the various and constantly changing forces who seek to control it from within and without. A sophisticated story well told. Rattles in the brain for weeks.

Pub Date: June 28, 1991

ISBN: 0-8027-1149-9

Page Count: 213

Publisher: Walker

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.

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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