As so often in Vachss, the story is less notable as a story, or an exploration of characters in conflict, than as an...

READ REVIEW

SIGNWAVE

Former mercenary Adelbert Johnson, still living in retirement at an Oregon village with his wife, Dolly, finds that the world just won’t leave a man alone to ruminate in peace.

Not that Dell’s ruminations are peaceful. The opening pages of his third adventure recall the death of his fellow légionnaire Olaf, who’s probably more thunderous, and certainly more long-winded, about the rules of engagement for his trade as he lies dying than he ever was when he was actually in the mix. But Dell calms down enough to be truly outraged at the thinly veiled threat Dolly receives after she drops a tip to the blog Undercurrents about the stealthy doings of moneyed gay businessman George Byron Benton, who’s been quietly buying up adjoining parcels of land for some dark purpose. Tapping the expertise of his usual co-conspirators—Dolly’s friend Mack, softhearted giant Franklin, nursery owners Johnny and Martin, the mysterious online correspondent he call the ghost—Dell soon confirms that Benton is up to no good. For one thing, he’s not really gay; his partner, Roger Mason, isn’t his partner at all. For another, he’s somehow involved with Undercurrents staffer Rhonda Jayne Johnson. And as if that weren’t enough, his deep-laid plans involve a pricey arts center, financed entirely by himself, that will bring jobs and tourists to the area. Fans of the series (Aftershock, 2013, etc.) will lose sleep waiting to find out whether the mystery will be further elucidated (spoiler alert: don’t hold your breath) and whether Dell will engage the enemy directly (altogether more likely).

As so often in Vachss, the story is less notable as a story, or an exploration of characters in conflict, than as an extended meditation on what Dell aptly calls “the zen of violence.”

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-87044-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more