COMING HOME

Mega-selling Pilcher's very, very long WW II soap: the hardships of the Duration are never far from a restoring cup of China tea and a silver tray of iced cakes. It's 1936 when Pilcher's (September, 1990, etc.) sensible, selfless heroine Judith Dunbara true English roseis separated from her family: Her mother and sister go off to Ceylon to join her father, and Judith, 14, is sent to St. Ursula's girls' school in Cornwall. There, she befriends the rich, madcap Loveday Carey-Lewis and is quickly adopted by her glamorous, likable family. Though Judith is supposed to spend her holidays with her golf-playing Aunt Louise, she quickly finds a happier home at Nancherrow, the Carey- Lewises' luxurious estate on the Cornish coast. Cushioned by cashmere and fine Shetland, befriended by Nettlebed the butler and Mrs. Nettlebed the cook, advised by the Carey Lewises' wise nanny Mary Millywaya veritable Disney film of charming support staffJudith copes with growing up ``alone.'' When Aunt Louise dies in a car crash, though, Judith comes into a considerable fortune of her ownone that enables her to buy the home she, too, has always craved. Finally, after a lot of long walks and Cornish cream teas, WW II begins, and the beautiful young men who decorated the lawns of Nancherrow are wounded, taken prisoner, or killed. Judith, mourning the death of Edward Carey-Lewis, joins the Wrens, the Women's Royal Navy Service. In the service, she has a passionate one-nighter with a Cornish doctor who's not only sensible but knows how to cook a good steak. Though the letter in which he'll later declare his lifelong devotion never reaches Judith, a typical wartime happy ending is ensured. Homily-laden escapist fare with drama that's never as good as the gardening. Flowers are everywhere, even decorating the pages, in Pilcher's sylvan valentine to prewar Cornwall. (First printing of 850,000; $800,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-13451-7

Page Count: 736

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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Inside this bloated novel is a lean thriller starring a strong and damaged protagonist who's as compelling as Lisbeth...

THE THIRD TO DIE

In Brennan’s (Nothing To Hide, 2019, etc.) new series launch, a hard-edged female LAPD undercover cop and an ambitious FBI special agent race to catch a serial killer before he strikes again.

On paid administrative leave since an incident with a suspect went wrong, a restless Detective Kara Quinn is on an early morning run in her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, when she discovers the flayed corpse of a young nurse. In D.C., FBI Special Agent in Charge Mathias Costa is staffing the new Mobile Response Team, designed to cover rural areas underserved by law enforcement, when his boss assigns Matt and analyst Ryder Kim to Liberty Lake. The notorious Triple Killer, who murders three random victims, three days apart, every three years, has returned. With only six days to identify and catch the culprit, and only three days until he kills again, the team is “on a very tight clock.” What should be on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense turns into a slog marred by pedestrian prose (“she heard nothing except birds chirping…”), a convoluted plot slowed down by a focus on dull bureaucratic infighting, and flat character development. The sole exception is the vividly drawn Kara. Smart, angry, defensive, complicated, she fascinates both the reader and Matt ("Kara Quinn was different—and he couldn’t put his finger on why”).

Inside this bloated novel is a lean thriller starring a strong and damaged protagonist who's as compelling as Lisbeth Salander.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0944-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Sluggish plot hemmed in by too much backstory and going-through-the-motions prose. Not Brown’s best.

WHITE HOT

Lukewarm thriller from bestselling Brown (Hello, Darkness, 2003, etc.).

Sayre Hoyle doesn’t believe her brother Danny committed suicide, and she’s returned home to prove it—but it seems nothing ever changes in Destiny, Louisiana. The small town looks the same as ever, and the same good old boys are sitting in the same vinyl booths at the same diner, conniving and backstabbing and telling lies. Too bad one of them just happens to be Sayre’s daddy, Huff Hoyle. A self-made rich man in a poor parish, he owns a smoke-belching iron foundry, a hellish place that at least provides employment for the beaten-down men of Destiny. If industrial accidents do happen in one of ’em now and then, well, that’s God’s will. Tough-talking Huff don’t want the government OSHA boys anywhere near his foundry, and that goes double for union organizers and other un-American busybodies. Sayre’s heard it all before—and still doesn’t trust either him or her creepy older brother, Chris, who took so much pleasure in tormenting her when they were young. And there’s Huff’s new right-hand man, lawyer Beck Merchant, to contend with. What exactly does Beck stand to gain by his involvement with Huff and cronies? If only he weren’t so good-looking and sexy. . . . Back to the story: Did Slap Watkins, jug-eared, degenerate scion of inbred bayou-dwellers, kill gentleman Danny in a fit of rage when Danny refused to hire Slap’s fellow parolees? Nah. Slap doesn’t have the brains or coordination to kill a June bug. Back to the subplot: Will the tyrannical Huff resort to violence when his ironworkers defy him and go out on strike? And back to the reason Sayre hates Huff: He forced her to have an abortion, performed by an incompetent doctor who tied her, screaming, to the table in his back room. And now for the reason Beck hates Huff . . . .

Sluggish plot hemmed in by too much backstory and going-through-the-motions prose. Not Brown’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-4553-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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