A first hardcover outing for Willy Hanson, a paperback hero who lives on a ketch as an ``atoning avenger.'' Visiting his old friend Cliff Blaylock in idyllic Stag Creek, New Jersey, Willy can't help noticing that Blaylock's saddened and distracted over the theft of a unique rarity he'd just purchased—a mint-condition 1793 penny inscribed ``AMERI''- -and over the shooting, the very same night the coin was stolen, of Willis McCord, the boy next door. In fact, Blaylock is much more troubled than Willy knows, since he shot Willis himself during a robbery in which Willis's accomplice and drug source, Heavy Laval, got away with a briefcase filled with $20,000 in bullion (whose value even a lug like Heavy can appreciate) and the AMERI penny (making his total haul, Heavy thinks, $20,000.01). Now, as Willy and his p.i. partner Coley Doctor are combing the streets to get a line on the coin, Blaylock is doing everything he can to keep them from finding Heavy. And just to keep the pot boiling, Heavy, realizing what a haul he's made, is planning in his elephantine way to blackmail his victim; Heavy's bossman, Florida druglord Bocco Lamas, has come to New York to supervise damage control (meaning, in Heavy's case, prompt extermination); and Red Irons, Bocco's middleman, is struggling to keep Bocco happy, and himself alive. It's an Elmore Leonard setup, but completely without Leonard's fizz and wit, because Arnote (Hong Kong, China, 1996) writes so flatly (Blaylock muses sensitively, ``I've killed poor Willis McCord and things will never be the same''; later, Willis's grieving mother, who turns out to be one hot mama, memorializes her son: ``The Blaylocks were very special people to young Willis''). Even so, the tale moves along at a snappy pace, and few readers will guess who'll join Willy in the small circle of survivors. Functional and depthless as an aluminum-sided split-level a long way down the road from swanky Stag Creek.

Pub Date: June 10, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-86198-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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