A historically faithful and ingeniously thrilling account of the last throes of the second world war.

Dead Ringer

A historical thriller set during World War II that revolves around the global race for an atomic bomb.

Debut author Cone, a retired U.S. Army officer, pens a suspenseful account of the international dash to make a single weapon so destructive that it would irrevocably alter the balance of power among nations. The story begins at a complex in Ohrdruf with a secretive test by German scientists that’s spectacularly, chillingly successful. Col. Manfred Veltheim, who made his reputation for efficiently managing a concentration camp, personally relays the good news to a triumphant Adolf Hitler. But despite his purported confidence, Hitler seems aware how badly the German military needs such leverage, as his military resources are dwindling and he’s suffered serious, recent setbacks in Normandy. Also, the Führer must manage conspiratorial plots to unseat him from power, especially as the prospect of defeat looms closer. Meanwhile, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill discover evidence of Germany’s progress producing a fission bomb and redouble their own collective efforts to make one first. Roosevelt, intent on knowing more about Germany’s work, dispatches one of his most trusted spies to gather intelligence. Josef Stalin, with his own eye on world domination, also pursues the same goal. A factotum close to the Soviet leader aptly expresses the significance of such a bomb: “Comrade Stalin, if Napoleon had possessed a fission weapon, I have little doubt that you and I and all of Europe would now be living under the French flag, eating croissants with every meal, and listing our addresses as but one of many far-flung arrondissements of the city of Paris.” The action rapidly unfolds, including a vast cast of meticulously researched historical characters. The plot’s greatest strength is its inventive revision of Nazi Gen. Erwin Rommel’s role in the war. For readers interested in the behind-the-scenes intrigue of WWII and particularly the dissent within Germany’s own ranks, this is a delightful read.

A historically faithful and ingeniously thrilling account of the last throes of the second world war.

Pub Date: June 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4701-7726-3

Page Count: 270

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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