DOUBLE FAULT

Former tennis champ, Vietnam grunt, and CIA stringer Brad Smith (Breakfast at Wimbledon, 1991, etc.) finds himself harried by homicidally traumatized Vietnam combat vets. Over the years, a hit squad has been murdering the survivors of a particular infantry unit that fought at Quang Xi, site of a My Lai-style massacre of civilians. The latest victim is helicopter copilot Dave Wentworth, killed right after a fake Pentagon agent fools Smith into revealing his whereabouts. Last on the death-squad's list is pilot Kevin Green, who vanished after being repatriated from a Vietnamese POW camp. Smith, besieged by uncommunicative FBI, CIA, and Pentagon agents, learns that Green witnessed the massacre, then allowed the guilty GIs to stumble into a Viet Cong ambush. Will the hit squad's last hope—deranged, cancer-riddled Arnie Tubb—get to Smith before Smith can locate Green? Meanwhile, the narrative—alternating between first person (Smith) and omniscient author (dimwitted agents; pathetic, rather than threatening, vets; government bigwigs)—generates no tension or momentum, and precious little intrigue. Altogether a bloated, mediocre farrago; Brad Smith isn't the first spook to look threadbare in the absence of reliable, Evil Empire KGB opposition.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-85385-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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