A smart caper with a heroine to match.

MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS

When her new job at a movie studio turns deadly, the daughter of a renowned private investigator is her company’s only hope—and the highlight of this debut mystery.

Years ago, Corrie Locke and her father cracked a murder case that could have put an NBA superstar in prison. Now she’s relieved to take on a comparatively tame position as an entertainment lawyer in sunny Newport Beach, California, where she’ll be far away from danger—or so she thinks. When Druby Valdez, the company’s former head of security, is found dead at the bottom of a lake, his co-workers suspect foul play. But Corrie is reluctant to tackle the case on her own. Her “gene for caution is a recessive one, but it’s still there,” and conducting a murder investigation is not an easy thing to do while navigating office politics. Corrie’s misadventures with her co-workers are as fun to read about as her amateur sleuthing. Inside the Complex—“a place filled with intrigue, deception, secrets, and beautiful people”—Corrie has more egos to manage than contracts to write. She deftly turns her business meetings into excuses to dig for clues, risking certain termination (as well as unwanted attention from lecherous executives) if she focuses on the wrong person. Meanwhile, Sideris also reveals, through Corrie’s other cases (a missing cat and a possible alien abduction), how Corrie’s past may have led her to her present. The author paints Corrie’s co-workers as being as devious as cartoon villains, so the list of suspects quickly becomes unwieldy. However, she also adds gentle humor and a touch of romance. Outside of work, for example, Corrie’s childhood friend Michael is sincere when others are superficial. He becomes her likable partner in fighting crime—and possibly more. Another memorable ally is Veera, a security guard and a first-year law student, who comes to work as her assistant, fending off Corrie’s enemies with creative threats like, “I’m going to dislocate all of your limbs. Then I’m gonna pour Kool-Aid all over your sorry ass and plant it in an ant’s nest.”

A smart caper with a heroine to match.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5092-0240-9

Page Count: 408

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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