MATERIAL WITNESS

Even a slugger like Tanenbaum (Reversible Error, 1992, etc.) can't hit a home run every time—as witnessed by this contrived, though compelling, fifth novel in his 70's-set series about crime- busting Manhattan D.A. Butch Karp and his crew. The core case here is the murder of New York Hustlers basketball star Marion Simmons, his body found in his car—along with $50,000 worth of coke. We (but not Karp) know whodunit—a top mob hit man and his apprentice—but we don't know why. Karp gets into the action when the Hustlers coach asks him to look into the killing, which Karp can do since he's just resigned his post as a way of taking responsibility for a subordinate's screw-up. So Karp, going undercover, joins the Hustlers as a player—and this after the aging ex-A.D.A., once a hot basketball prospect, has just picked up a b-ball for the first time in years. Tanenbaum tries hard, but Karp's ability to play pro ball, much less lead the Hustlers to victory, just aren't convincing. Meanwhile, the hit men hunt two witnesses to the killing, one of whom turns for help to an old pal—who happens to be Karp's pregnant wife, Marlene, on leave from the D.A.'s office. Bored at home, Marlene teams up with a rummy cop to chase the killing's drug angle, contacting a druglord who provides clues that, along with others, point at a land-grab conspiracy involving crooked powerbrokers. Karp rejoins the D.A.'s office and taps old series pals to tie up the case—but not before Marlene is attacked by the hit men even as her baby struggles to be born.... Plenty of intrigue, action, and Tanenbaum's usual snappy folk and dialogue—but the Perils of Pregnant Pauline gambit and other tricky plays may have readers calling ``foul.''

Pub Date: June 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93579-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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