A terrifyingly detailed, engrossing tale about what happens when the judicial hammer comes down.

PRESUMED GUILTY

In this debut legal novel, an innocent Wall Street executive becomes the subject of a misguided criminal investigation.

New York, 2012. Emma Simpson, the manager of the Manhattan office of the hedge fund Otis Capital, dashes off an email before leaving work for the day. It’s a routine missive, encouraging the members of her team to follow the company’s document retention policy. Then she drives home to her husband and two children on their Hudson Valley farm. One year later, Otis Capital is the target of an insider trading investigation conducted by the United States Attorney’s office, and Emma—without realizing it—has become its primary person of interest. Word comes down that she needs to lawyer up. “Did she really need her own big-shot defense lawyer?” wonders Emma. “The company already had a very expensive law firm with a bunch of former federal prosecutors handling the subpoena. Was there something they weren’t telling her?” And after all, she didn’t do anything wrong. Regardless, Emma finds herself in the sights of two ambitious federal prosecutors—one on the fast track to a prominent career and one afraid that he isn’t—and it might not matter who, if anyone, is actually guilty. The wheels of justice are in motion, and Emma is trapped directly in their path. Shapiro’s prose is clean and fluid, capturing the intricacies of finance law and the emotional states of her characters with equal clarity: “Emma stared at the empty yellow pad in front of her and tapped her pencil on it repeatedly. She felt numb and disconnected from her surroundings. It was as if she had just discovered she’d been living in a simulation for the past forty-five years with no ability to control a destiny that was simply the product of algorithms in someone else’s computer program.” The author demonstrates a convincing familiarity with Wall Street and financial prosecution, and the characters, even the minor ones, are memorably constructed. Emma has frustratingly little control over her own story, which robs the book of some of its potential dynamism but illustrates for readers how powerless an innocent person often is before the law.

A terrifyingly detailed, engrossing tale about what happens when the judicial hammer comes down.

Pub Date: March 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63730-640-6

Page Count: 278

Publisher: New Degree Press

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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