THE JAPAN CONSPIRACY

Washington columnist Anderson (The Cambodia File, 1981, with Bill Pronzini; etc.)—famed and prized for his exposure of real-life evil political deeds—cooks up fictional thrills having to do with ruthless Japanese who still carry a grudge and have the billions in gold bullion to do something about it. As America's ill-advised, inexperienced President Walton (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) prepares to fly off to Osaka for a summit with the Japanese prime minister, pretty, ambitious, orphaned, young lawyeress Alison Carey and moody, insecure, but basically swell young lawyer Kevin Daulton—employees of a vastly powerful L.A.- D.C. law firm—slave over an immensely complex stock offering for a rabidly anti-Japanese conglomerateur. But what's this? Alison's first glimpse of her firm's ultrapowerful senior partner reveals him to be the same powerful manipulator she just happened to see secretly hobnobbing with even more ultrapowerful Japanese executives on a visit to her sister in, of all places, Guam. Wouldn't his loyalties be, you know, divided? At the same time, Elinor Woods—the kindly, attractive junior senator from California—gets an anonymous note on CIA letterhead urging her to ask the secretary of state what he knows about something called the ``O Fund,'' which she does, scaring the bejeebers out of the secretary and giving her committee chairman apoplexy. On the West Coast, the young lawyers look into the doings of their treacherous boss. On the East Coast, the senator and her dedicated Chicano chief of staff look into the ``O Fund,'' which has something to do with ill-gotten Manchurian gains. In Japan, a cabal of imperialist industrialists, gangsters, and politicians prepare to bring about the total collapse of the American financial system while President Walton is in Osaka suffering, as did his predecessor, from an upset stomach. It's all one big conspiracy. Heartstopping for foreign-policy wonks, who will, presumably, not be put off by bureaucratic dialogue (``Farrow grunted. `Gold was essential, of course' '').

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8217-4212-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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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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