Another psychologically fraught case for Scotland Yard's upper-class Inspector Thomas Lynley and his rough-hewn Sergeant Barbara Havers (Missing Joseph, 1993, etc.) as they grapple with the death, by fire in a cottage in Kent, of cricket star Ken Fleming. The cottage, which had been rented to the glamorous wife of the sponsor of Ken's cricket team, is owned by wealthy widow Miriam Whitelaw, who had been Ken's high-school teacher, then his employer at Whitelaw Printing, and a longtime mentor. Ken, on the verge of ending his marriage to Jean Cooper, was about to take 16-year-old son Jimmy (oldest of his three children) on a holiday to Greece on the night he died. Ken was in his mid-30s, of an age with Miriam's long-estranged daughter Olivia, who hasn't seen or spoken to her mother in ten years. Some years back, Olivia was saved from a life of lying, cheating, and whoring by Chris Faraday, a man dedicated to animal rescue and impervious to her dubious charms. But a devastating blow forces her return to the past — just as Lynley and Havers are proclaiming their stalking-horse killer. Rambling and effusively wordy, Playing For the Ashes holds the reader in thrall to the end — a tribute to George's literary skills and storytelling magic.

Pub Date: July 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-553-09262-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1994

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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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