OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

Third, and weakest, in a legal procedural whodunit series featuring Lake Tahoe attorney Nina Reilly from the O'Shaughnessy sisters writing team. Taking up a few days after Invasion of Privacy (1996) ended, Reilly accompanies rugged but haunted prosecutor Collier Hallowell for what the two hope will be a romantic trek to the top of Mount Tallac, only to fall in with the dysfunctional de Beers family, whose presence on the mountain seems anything but recreational. A storm brews, and Hallowell and Reilly witness nasty Raymond de Beers, the president of a well-known but shoddy Lake Tahoe construction company, blown off the peak into their path and killed, seemingly by a bolt of lightning. After the unsatisfying inquest, which raises more questions than answers, Reilly recommends that Hallowell, who suspects foul play, hire her former lover p.i. Paul Von Wagoner to find whatever clues about the killing the Tahoe police could not. Meanwhile, Reilly is approached by domineering family patriarch Quentin de Beers, who also thinks that Raymond was somehow murdered. Reilly begins to believe that Raymond's death may be linked to the hit-and-run murder of a local woman. But the O'Shaughnessy team forces that intersection very awkwardly, compelling their disbelieving characters to lecture each other on Jungian synchronicities, the relationship between reality and art, and cosmic parallels to Greek myths. Before the mystery can be solved, others will die, and Reilly and the increasingly obsessed Hallowell will find themselves on opposite sides. The novel falls apart, like one of the badly constructed de Beers houses, in a cliff-hanging climax in which all the apparent bad guys are revealed to be good, and a method is offered that, in theory, would make lightning a murder weapon capable of striking the same place more than once. Forced, unconvincing characters and vastly overheated plotting, with some sharp, if predictable, courtroom scenes and an impressive knowledge of forensic pathology.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-31870-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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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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