A zealous, persistently amusing detective tale.

40 NICKELS

From the Carnegie Fitch Mystery Fiasco series , Vol. 2

Sleuth Carnegie Fitch returns to investigate a dubious new religion headed by a dangerous quasi-preacher in the second installment of a mystery series about him. 

Despite successfully closing a case the year before, unlicensed Vancouver private eye Fitch has given up his office. Now driving a tow truck, he still has the PI “itch” and is currently working pro bono in his search for a missing calico cat. But he may have something more substantial when his sexual partner, Adora Carmichael, asks him to keep an eye out for a “kooky” local religion and its ruckus-causing preacher. Fitch sits in on a meeting of the Disciples of the Sacred Glow and quickly knows something is indeed wrong. Preacher Quincy Quest is actually Copernicus Janssen, an ex-dentist whom Fitch knows, from years ago, is bad news. This discovery leads to a paying client: Kathleen Brasher, whose son, Hugo, inexplicably closed the family business, and the Disciples now meet at the company’s former warehouse. But facing off against Janssen won’t be easy. The preacher also remembers Fitch and, aware of what the PI is up to, points two muscle-bound security men in his direction. But Fitch’s biggest threat is “the glow,” the DSG’s supposedly healing light that, in reality, precipitates a horrifying experience. Though the villain is immediately clear, Lester’s (Dead Clown Blues, 2017, etc.) briskly paced novella still allows for scenes of investigation. Fitch, for one, looks into an old murder that may have ties to Janssen. The baddies are unquestionably menacing and sometimes use Fitch as a punching bag; the story, however, as in the preceding installment, is predominantly humorous. Fitch’s endless wisecracks are more winsome than cynical, and the best scenes consist entirely of dialogue. Despite Adora’s status as a femme fatale having engaged in criminal activity in the past, the story’s standout character is Ellie Stevens. She’s a whip-smart teen who aids Fitch and has “the resourcefulness and the coffee habit of a 40-year-old.” 

A zealous, persistently amusing detective tale. 

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948235-16-7

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Shotgun Honey

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

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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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