This thriller offers an intricate puzzle with a few surprises and some strategic power grabs as a hardened journalist...

Naked Ambition

From the The NAKED series series , Vol. 1

A seasoned Washington, D.C., newspaper reporter uncovers a potentially explosive corruption scandal in this debut political novel.

Beck Rikki, a Washington investigative journalist, is casually sipping a Corona Light when he receives a call from Daniel Fahy, a senior figure at the Justice Department. Fahy wants to tip off Beck about a high-ranking politician that he thinks is caught up in a bribery scheme. Beck is intrigued, if a little skeptical, but it has been a while since he’s written a good investigative story. Fahy possesses recordings of U.S. Sen. David Bayard talking about an apparent money-laundering scheme involving his properties in the Cayman Islands. As the money may be coming from a contractor that Bayard’s Senate committee oversees, officials are anxious to prosecute before the next election. Beck starts his probe, but he isn’t sure whether Fahy harbors political motives of his own or plans to set up the reporter somehow. The FBI pays a visit to Geneva Kemper, a fairly sultry lobbyist who works for Serodynne Corporation, a government contractor that has donated funds to Bayard and his PAC. She is also the wife of a senator and something of a recreational nudist. Concerned about the fate of one of Serodynne’s bids, Geneva introduces herself to Beck, hoping to find out information about the investigation. The two begin a torrid affair, and revelations about not just Bayard and his dealings, but also Geneva’s investments and motives put Beck in serious jeopardy. Pullen has written a solid, descriptive thriller that shows that he is well-informed and savvy about the newspaper business and the political world. Beck and Geneva are convincing denizens of the labyrinthine world of post–9/11 and post–Citizens United politics in Washington, and their competing interests in the midst of their affair keep the complex plot from feeling like familiar territory. Geneva, in particular, is quite a creation: a woman who easily excels in this play-for-keeps yet cordial world of deal-making and power plays but despises it and longs to escape. All the characters perform their roles well, even Beck’s trusty red armchair, and in Pullen’s hands the shady and sometimes-judicious relationships among government, business, and journalism are shown in a penetrating and astute manner.

This thriller offers an intricate puzzle with a few surprises and some strategic power grabs as a hardened journalist pursues the story of his career.

Pub Date: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-63435-6

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Blair House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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