A laugh-out-loud mystery that will delight fans of the genre.

READ REVIEW

MURDER BY MISRULE

A FRANCIS BACON MYSTERY

Lawyer, scientist and original Renaissance man Francis Bacon enlists four high-spirited law students to help solve a murder and secure his return to Queen Elizabeth’s favor.

In this debut historical mystery set in 1586, a 25-year-old Bacon is horrified when he stumbles over the body of his former law tutor in a Westminster alleyway. But when his uncle, the powerful courtier Lord Burghley, asks him to investigate the murder, he sees an opportunity to regain the queen’s favor, lost after he dared to suggest the English legal code needed an overhaul. Hoping to restart his stalled career, the ambitious Bacon takes the assignment, but owing to delicate digestion and social awkwardness, he delegates much of the actual investigating to his four pupils: Tom Clarady, a good-hearted mischief-maker whose privateer father is determined to make him a gentleman; the miniature Allen Trumpington, owner of “a tragic wisp of a moustache of which he was perversely proud”; highborn, pompous Stephen Delabere; and the studious, intelligent Benjamin Whitt. At the murder scene, Clarady spies a golden-haired beauty gazing down from a window and falls immediately in love. The possibility that she might have witnessed the murder provides him an excuse to hunt for her, though identifying her does prompt certain concerns: “Had he fallen in love with a strumpet? Again?” Fortunately for Clarady, Clara Goossens only charges for the portraits she paints of noblewomen. Bacon suspects the enemy is close at hand: namely, another lawyer at Gray’s Inn allied with Catholic factions and intent on fomenting political unrest to unseat the queen. Castle’s characters brim with zest and real feeling, whether it’s Bacon dithering on a doorstep and wondering whether anyone has seen him do it or the prickly dynamic between Tom and Stephen, longtime pals from different social classes whose established symbiosis—“sharing Tom’s father’s money and Stephen’s father’s influence”—is starting to fray. Though the plot keeps the pages turning, the characters, major and minor, and the well-wrought historical details will make readers want to linger in the 16th century.

A laugh-out-loud mystery that will delight fans of the genre.

Pub Date: June 8, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Capitol Crime

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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?

With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

ALL ADULTS HERE

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.

Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a 68-year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses." Elliot, her oldest, who's in real estate, lives in Clapham with his wife, Wendy, who's Chinese American, and their twins toddlers, Aidan and Zachary, who are "such hellions that only a fool would willingly ask for more." Astrid's daughter, Porter, owns a nearby farm producing artisanal goat cheese and has just gotten pregnant through a sperm bank while having an affair with her married high school boyfriend. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub (Modern Lovers, 2016, etc.) draws her characters warmly, making them appealing in their self-centeredness and generosity, their insecurity and hope. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters. Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu.

With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59463-469-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more