A rousing and provocative political thriller, though the labyrinthine plot can make for an arduous read.



The FBI races to uncover a complex conspiracy to hijack a presidential election.

McCrone’s (Faithless Elector, 2016) second installment in the Imogen Trager series picks up where its predecessor left off: a plot to steal the presidency results in the murders of seven electors, in retribution for their refusal to change their votes, and three faithless electors, who were killed in order to silence them. After a chaotic shootout, the assistant director of the FBI languishes in a medically induced coma; professor Duncan Calder (Trager’s love interest) is badly wounded; and Thomas Kurtz, an FBI agent complicit in the conspiracy, is dead. There is powerful evidence of electoral fraud in Illinois, and it’s likely that when Congress convenes, it will deem the votes of the faithless electors illegitimate. In that case, in accordance with the 12th Amendment, a vote by the House of Representatives will select a new president and one by the Senate, a new vice president, the two possibly from different parties. Both presidential candidates—Republican James Christopher and Democrat Diane Redmond—suggest the other is culpable of fraud, and the public grows violently disillusioned by an increasingly shambolic pantomime of the democratic process. McCrone skillfully depicts a country pushed to the brink: “In this atmosphere, it was growing harder to know what was going on at all, nor what information to trust. The Constitution was straining at the seams.” Trager helps the FBI find evidence of two conspiratorial cells—one operating within the bureau and one outside of it. The acting executive assistant director of the FBI, Don Weir, worries that the agency continues to be infiltrated by moles. The author yet again deftly delivers a combination of stirring action and remarkably intricate plot entanglements. And this is a timely and intelligent commentary on the current state of electoral politics in America—a dour sense of voter disenfranchisement in response to dizzyingly ubiquitous corruption. But the plot is sometimes torpidly complex, and despite dutiful synopses of prior events regularly issued, this will be a difficult book to follow for those who haven’t read the first.

A rousing and provocative political thriller, though the labyrinthine plot can make for an arduous read.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-79784-6

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Faithless Elector

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2017

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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