An engrossing and suspenseful mystery.

STORM ISLAND

From the Kate Pomeroy Mysteries series , Vol. 1

In Watkins’ (Sarah and Zoey, 2017, etc.) mystery-series starter, a young doctor is haunted by hallucinations and anxieties regarding her mother’s death. 

When Kate Pomeroy, a second-year surgical resident at a Los Angeles hospital, wakes from a nap before a scheduled procedure, she overhears a conspiratorial conversation between assistant chief of psychiatry Dr. James Conway and an unknown man about an apparently illicit exchange of money. Kate thinks that it’s probably just a common bribe by a pharmaceutical rep, and heads into surgery. However, as she’s about to start the procedure, she’s waylaid by some kind of nervous breakdown and collapses into a mental fog. She’s committed to the psychiatric unit, where she experiences hallucinations as Conway illegally treats with her experimental drugs. After Conway’s subterfuge is uncovered, Kate’s father, Hamilton, sends her to Storm Island, where the family vacationed as a child, to recover. However, she’s still plagued by dark visions—including some involving her mother, Cassandra, who died on the island, an apparent suicide, when Kate was young. Kate then discovers several of her mom’s old journals, but the last, recording the year of her death, is missing. The young woman becomes determined to find out what happened to it, and in the midst of her investigations, she realizes much of what she thought she knew about her mother was false. Throughout this mystery story, Watkins artfully captures the distinction between reality and fantasy. Indeed, her depictions of Kate’s hallucinations are terrifying, and it’s often deliciously unclear whether the protagonist is experiencing a mental mirage or a clearheaded epiphany. The author builds the suspense in a cautious manner, meting out just enough information to keep the tale moving forward, but not so much as to lessen the gripping drama of the story. That said, the plot is a touch convoluted, overall, but one can’t help but be impressed with the aplomb with which Watkins weaves all the errant threads into a single narrative tapestry. 

An engrossing and suspenseful mystery. 

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944815-08-0

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Argon Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

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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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