Another enjoyable entry in a series that’s likely to go on for a while.

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THE DECEIVERS

The latest in the long-running John Wells series (The Prisoner, 2017, etc.), in which the hero has faced high-stakes crises annually since 2006.

Small-time drug dealer Ahmed Shakir is tricked into participating in a terrorist attack at a basketball game in Dallas and then is blown up along with hundreds of others by 400 pounds of C4 explosive. President Vinny Duto summons ex–CIA agent John Wells to travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to investigate a lead on the attack. “Were other attacks in the works?”Of course there were. Meanwhile, Sen. Paul Birman, a likely challenger to Duto in the next election, is on the warpath about Muslims after the Dallas attack. Birman has a cousin, Eric, who hates “Lucky Cousin Paul” and is both a decorated war veteran and a spy for the Russians. Then there’s Tom Miller, who’d been an Army sniper and whose only talent is long-range sharpshooting. He wallows in conspiracy theories that say things like George W. Bush arranged the 9/11 attacks. A homely, lonely virgin, Miller is the “perfect mark” for Allie, a sexy Russian agent who sets him up to be a killer. So he shoots a Missouri megachurch pastor and a Roman Catholic cardinal “because he couldn’t say no to his girlfriend.” The next target could be Sen. Birman or the president himself, so Wells and colleagues face a dangerous challenge in stopping the threat. Fans of the series know that Wells is a convert to Islam, which feels less relevant here than in some of his earlier adventures. Also, he sees himself “as a knight-errant, a modern Don Quixote,” though he’s far more successful than the ancient Spaniard. As often happens, the villains are the most interesting characters—the resentful Eric, the hapless Tom, the conniving Allie.

Another enjoyable entry in a series that’s likely to go on for a while.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-17616-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

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THE LAST TRIAL

Trying his final case at 85, celebrated criminal defense lawyer Sandy Stern defends a Nobel-winning doctor and longtime friend whose cancer wonder drug saved Stern's life but subsequently led to the deaths of others.

Federal prosecutors are charging the eminent doctor, Kiril Pafko, with murder, fraud, and insider trading. An Argentine émigré like Stern, Pafko is no angel. His counselor is certain he sold stock in the company that produced the drug, g-Livia, before users' deaths were reported. The 78-year-old Nobelist is a serial adulterer whose former and current lovers have strong ties to the case. Working for one final time alongside his daughter and proficient legal partner, Marta, who has announced she will close the firm and retire along with her father following the case, Stern must deal not only with "senior moments" before Chief Judge Sonya "Sonny" Klonsky, but also his physical frailty. While taking a deep dive into the ups and downs of a complicated big-time trial, Turow (Testimony, 2017, etc.) crafts a love letter to his profession through his elegiac appreciation of Stern, who has appeared in all his Kindle County novels. The grandly mannered attorney (his favorite response is "Just so") has dedicated himself to the law at great personal cost. But had he not spent so much of his life inside courtrooms, "He never would have known himself." With its bland prosecutors, frequent focus on technical details like "double-blind clinical trials," and lack of real surprises, the novel likely will disappoint some fans of legal thrillers. But this smoothly efficient book gains timely depth through its discussion of thorny moral issues raised by a drug that can extend a cancer sufferer's life expectancy at the risk of suddenly ending it.

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed Innocent.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4813-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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