The Ghost writes on. Wonderfully.

WITH THESE HANDS

The final volume in a series of four posthumous titles (Beyond the Great Snow Mountains, 1999, etc.) collecting tales never before published in book form, many in genres we don’t associate with the Western writer.

L’Amour (1908–88) came from pioneer stock and traced his family back to 1600. Before committing fully to a writing career in his mid-’30s, he led a vastly adventurous life. He sailed around the globe, was shipwrecked in the West Indies and stranded in the Mojave Desert, worked as a miner, lumberjack, cattle skinner, carnival barker, elephant handler, and a boxer (winning 51 of 59 fights); during WWII, he served as an officer in the Transportation Corps. Included herein is the ferocious boxing saga “Gloves for a Tiger,” the second short story he sold. Also here are the wrap-ups for a number of early series clearly from his pulp days, although no provenance is given for any story. (Those interested can turn to louislamour.com for more information.) L’Amour is still finding his voice in many of these fictions, which echo genre styles of the day. For instance, in “Corpse on the Carpet,” his lengthy LA thriller about detective-to-be Kip Morgan: “She was sitting just around the curve of the bar, a gorgeous package of a girl, all done up in a gray tailored suit.” It’s pulp, but it’s catchy pulp; flurries like “I’d thrown my Sunday punch and all I got was rebound” keep readers lost in a hardboiled, lobster-bright time-warp filled with phrasings now as formal and stately as harpsichord notes from an 18th-century drawing room (“I whipped my right up into his solar plexus”). The lone Western, “Six-Gun Stampede,” is voiced in that “Anyways, I’m just fixin’ dinner” coziness. Far stronger is the title story, a Jack London–ish man-against-nature classic, telling of an oil company executive crashing in the Arctic wastes.

The Ghost writes on. Wonderfully.

Pub Date: May 7, 2002

ISBN: 0-553-80273-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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