Irelan (The Miracle Boy, 2013, etc.) plots as lackadaisically as Raymond Chandler, and Mike seems to think he’s Philip...

THE BIG DRUGSTORE

A shamus who plies his trade in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois, where “the best we could hope for was a day without toxic spills,” lands a case that begins with the shoplifting of a tube of toothpaste and leads swiftly to multiple murder.

William Morrison has hired the Scofield Detective Agency to keep an eye out for shoplifters in his Morco Drugstores, and that’s exactly what Mike Scofield is doing—in fact, he’s apprehending Kathy Dove with the toothpaste in her purse—when someone sneaks into the office and buries a knife in store manager Jason King’s chest. Morrison wants Mike to go back to his security beat and let the police do their job, but Mike’s dander is up; it won’t be good for his agency if he doesn’t play an active role in catching the killer. Morrison agrees to bankroll his investigation, but that’s Mike’s last piece of good luck. Kathy Dove (not her real name, alas) disappears, and even after Mike’s junior associate, Carlos Lorca, finds her stripping in the Gentleman’s Retreat, her story of being paid $100 by some drunk to distract Mike just leads Mike to a very dead drunk. The episodic plot spirals thereafter through the discovery of a multilayered insurance scam, several more corpses, a record number of chiropractors, the requisite sharp-looking dames (one of whom Mike seduces, a second of whom seduces him), and a thousand wisecracks, some of them equally sharp, others more familiar than funny. The solution to the case, which is as surprising as it is logical, has very little to do with what’s come before.

Irelan (The Miracle Boy, 2013, etc.) plots as lackadaisically as Raymond Chandler, and Mike seems to think he’s Philip Marlowe. He’s not, but this first case could put the Quad Cities on the sleuthing map, especially since a sequel is reportedly in the works.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-888160-87-1

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Ice Cube Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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