A PORTION FOR FOXES

Fourth in a skillful series featuring Malminster's Chief Inspector John Morrissey and his able second-in-command Neil Barrett (Roots of Evil, etc.). This time out, the two are confronted with the vicious knifing slaughter of aged, emaciated Duffy—a homeless, harmless village fixture. Then, as they're barely into their investigation, more trouble looms with the disappearance of Liz Pardoe, a student at Malminster's Brindley College—her lover, Paul Hanson, frantically pestering police and college officials, even after a phone message with a voice sounding like Liz's is left on the college switchboard. Paul's direst fears come true, compounded by another campus fatality. There are more killings in the homeless population, and outside it, as the murderer seeks to erase his trail, before Morrissey, Barrett, and their overstretched team ferret out the psychopath, finally brought to bay—unlike the fox whose comings and goings run a leitmotif throughout the story. The author's work, at its finest here, combines sharp psychological insight, a lucid picture of the nuts and bolts of solid policing, sympathetic probing of intimate relationships, and, above all, the ability to build and sustain an atmosphere loaded with anxiety and suspense—all defined by a literate style that's never pretentious but, at times, approaches poetry. For police procedural fans, and others: an uncommonly rewarding experience.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-13589-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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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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