More caper than thriller, this madcap tale delivers a well-paced, enjoyable takedown of Hollywood’s obsessive, back-stabbing...


From the Barney Moon, P.I. Mystery Thriller series , Vol. 2

A New York–based private investigator winds up back in the place he hates the most—Los Angeles—in this second installment of a series.

Hedge fund manager Saul Flockman has a serious problem. He suspects that his wife, Wanda Gooden, a sometime actress, is sleeping with her Hollywood agent, Irwin Kerner. Plus Kerner owes Flockman over a million dollars. There is only one person Saul trusts to handle this situation—his friend from the “old neighborhood,” private eye Barney Moon. It should be an easy case, only one night in the dreaded “ditzville.” But that’s not the way things happen with Barney. Inevitably, he witnesses something he shouldn’t see, and his curiosity demands that he follow the threads until he solves the puzzle—complaining all the way. A real city boy, Barney doesn’t drive. He is met at the airport by UCLA student Melodie Seaver, who chauffeured him around during his last West Coast escapade. Once again, Melodie proves to be an invaluable assistant. Sawyer’s (Cross Purposes, 2018, etc.) long career as a screenwriter/showrunner helps him to fortify his narrative with insider knowledge of the film industry’s machinations and manage a wildly complicated plot. In practically no time, Barney is the target of two rogue Homeland Security Investigations special agents with an only-in-Hollywood secret agenda, a notorious mobster, and the district attorney. A murder, a stolen movie script, a potential terrorist attack, and more make it clear Barney is not getting out of town anytime soon. The author stages his action novel much like a TV show. Scenes alternate among the various groups of characters, propelling the plot forward in what sometimes seems like unrelated directions. Until, of course, the story all comes together. The dialogue is often clipped and edgy, and Barney is off-the-charts quirky. He talks to himself as often as to the other characters; he spends an inordinate amount of time in his own head; and his humorous antipathy toward LA begins to wear thin. But he is smart and kind, easily capable of carrying a series.

More caper than thriller, this madcap tale delivers a well-paced, enjoyable takedown of Hollywood’s obsessive, back-stabbing culture.

Pub Date: April 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-977210-68-5

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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