Sharp, fast, and slick. Ferrigno (Scavenger Hunt, 2003, etc.) can read like Raymond Chandler on speed, with pages turning...

THE WAKE-UP

A mysterious Special Ops fixer makes the mistake of taking his job too personally.

Frank Thorpe, an army vet who was booted from Delta Force for starting a civil war in South America, knows how to get things done and doesn’t mind bending the rules. After Delta, Frank went to work for a “shop,” a shadowy private task force that did jobs the government couldn’t afford to take on itself. The shops don’t exactly play by Marquess of Queensbury rules, but Frank was a loose cannon even by their standards, and one of them let him go after he botched a technology-smuggling sting and got one of his comrades killed. Shell-shocked and unemployed, he wanders aimlessly about LA until one day he sees a Mexican peddler manhandled at the airport by a pompous businessman. Outraged, he calls on his undercover contacts to track down the bully, who turns out to be a Newport Beach art dealer named Doug Meachum. Frank then poses as a State Department art-smuggling rep and tells one of Meachum’s customers that the priceless Mayan artifact Meachum sold her is a fake. The customer, a social-climbing drug dealer named Missy Riddenhauser, goes ballistic and sends her sociopathic brother Cecil off to whack the bitchy gossip columnist who exposes the “fraud” in a local paper, and the whole affair kind of snowballs from there. Frank, meanwhile, is still trying to track down the engineer who blew his IT sting and killed his partner. All his friends in the shops tell him the same thing: Revenge is bad for business, a waste of time, and too dangerous for a smart guy to bother with. They’re right. But Frank, who believes in loyalty and justice, has some serious gaps in his education.

Sharp, fast, and slick. Ferrigno (Scavenger Hunt, 2003, etc.) can read like Raymond Chandler on speed, with pages turning and adrenaline pretty high throughout.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-42249-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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