WINE KILLER

Wine enthusiasts and wine collections are targeted as the police and consultant Jake Halsey chase an inscrutable killer.

A man is found dead in his wine cellar courtesy of a cyanide and wine concoction, and Det. David Riley calls friend and colleague Halsey, a “civilian expert” and the protagonist of Edgerton’s mystery novel debut. The detectives working the case quickly tie the murder to other crimes, including arson, all of which relate to wine collectors. There’s a distinct pattern among the transgressions, the labor of a psychopath whose murders are undeniably, thematically crafty—wine is even used to embalm one of the victims. The authorities call on Halsey’s skills at analyzing evidence to prevent further loss of lives and wine. Halsey is a well-rounded character, given depth with a history of a wife and daughter killed by a drunk driver and, he learns, a personal association with the titular murderer. He’s also regrettably self-indulgent, prone to reciting his resume when given a chance and spending much of his early courtship of Dr. Catherine Taylor showing off his big-ticket collectibles, antique cars and aircraft. The story is at its best during the scenes of investigation, which are methodical and meticulous but never tedious. Details of the case are often reiterated, including numerous lists of locations or methods of murder, but the story is not repetitive and instead these feel like continuous updates. The detectives are shrewd, not merely trailing the killer’s progress but anticipating his next move as well. The investigation, in fact, proves more intriguing than the killer himself, who hides behind his anonymity in random narrative segments until the inevitable meeting of adversaries. The identity of the killer may not be much of a surprise to readers, but the road to the revelation is exuberant and energetic.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983493808

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Halsey

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2011

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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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