STRIKE OF THE COBRA

A routine space shuttle mission goes sour, turning into a Libyan-US conflagration, with the PLO tossed in for good measure— in a second novel from Rizzi (Nightstalker, 1992). The US agrees to accommodate the new Russia and recover an ailing Kosmos satellite during its latest space shuttle mission- -except that maverick Russian General Popivich fires the Kosmos' rockets after recovery, starting a fire, and the shuttle emergency lands at Madadhi air base on the Chad-Libya border, an unbeknownst secret PLO base. Aboard the Kosmos are ten nuclear warheads that the US mustn't learn about. The PLO head fanatic, Ajami, the shuttle landing in his lap, envisions the huge ransom he can extract from the hated Americans. Enmeshed in the fray is head astronaut General Richard ``Duke'' James, central character of Nightstalker, appearing in a lesser role here. Things heat up when a Libyan weapons expert arrives at Madadhi (the Libyans are supporting the PLO logistically) and discovers the warheads. Ajami has now leaped from fat city to the whole enchilada. He can nuke New York City or Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the US and the Libyans, also alerted to the warheads' existence, are drawing battle plans. On the one side, cunning Libyan Major Nittal is using the PLO as cannon fodder so he can do a snatch and grab; on the other, the US deploys its new age Cobra Strike Force, supported by all the high- tech gewgaws the American taxpayer can provide. In the middle sit the PLO fanatics, their three American astronaut hostages, and the warheads. Let the battle begin. Heart-in-mouth, max G-force, stunningly realistic air action- -here unimpeded by too-fleshy characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 1993

ISBN: 1-55611-359-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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