A crime tale with a fierce, flawed heroine who surmounts plenty of perils and a few choice men.

DANGEROUS GIFTS

From the Charley Anderson Crime series , Vol. 2

In this sequel, a New Yorker with a past might not have a future after a vagrant’s gift puts her in mortal danger.

“What the hell do you wear to a funeral for a homeless guy?” Charley Anderson asks herself in the novel’s first sentence, immediately clueing readers to the main character’s irreverent attitude. An Upper East Sider, Metropolitan Museum of Art Board member, and multimillionaire, 40-year-old Charley suffers physical and emotional scars from a horrifying accident years earlier. Not to the manor born, Charley feels more comfortable talking to her doorman Carlton and Ben Williams, the homeless man always stationed outside her high-rise, than to the building’s residents. Upon learning of Ben’s death, Charley claims his body, pays for his burial (she’s the only gravesite visitor), and learns he left instructions to give her an envelope containing a pencil-written partial address, a key, remnants of a checkbook, and a girl’s faded photograph. Following the interment, Charley returns home to find a letter saying no harm will come to her if she turns over the contents of Ben’s envelope to a P.O. box. Soon Carlton, who had ties to the threatening letter, is found dead, his body tortured. A race ensues to find the lock that Ben’s key fits, the girl in his pocketed photo, and the culprit who killed Carlton before harm comes to Charley. Her chauffer, Jeff Jackson; private investigator Nash Pope and his team; and banker Joe Turner offer their assistance in keeping Charley safe and solving the mystery of why the contents of Ben’s envelope were cause for murder. (Joe also helps out in the bedroom.) Accounts of Met fundraising and artist name-dropping enrich Long’s (Scars, 2018) thriller. Representatives of various ages, ethnic backgrounds, social strata, and sexual preferences form a tapestry not unexpected in New York City but welcome in a novel. The author organically inserts revelations of Charley’s backstory from the series’ origin book. But the torture scenes are gratuitous, even if lithe, blond Charley, who can blind a man “with her bare hands,” is the one dealing out the pain. Believable dialogue and occasional humor pepper the narrative. And descriptions can be compelling: “She projected authority that made whoever sat in the facing chair feel extremely small.”

A crime tale with a fierce, flawed heroine who surmounts plenty of perils and a few choice men.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9991810-6-5

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Yellow City Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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