Characters continually evolve and astonish in this exceptional supernatural tale.

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GENESIS

From the Infinity series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of Westbay’s (Revelations, 2018) fantasy series, an angel defies God and traverses multiple universes to save the mortal woman he loves.

Though angelic Alex Prescott knows that human Gwen Adams is not his destined soul mate, he has finally stopped denying his love for her. Unfortunately, it may be too late; someone has infected Gwen with a poison that’s slowly killing her. He believes her salvation is the Tree of Life, which can turn her immortal. But on the journey to the tree, Alex is unknowingly getting help from his and Gwen’s mutual friend, Jasper Mills, who initially hides from Alex that he’s a fellow angel. He partially heals Gwen, but he can’t completely cure her sickness. What Jasper truly wants is revenge against Alex, whom he blames for a transgression that happened long ago. Meanwhile, getting to the tree necessitates traveling through portals to other universes. Alex will need to find three gatekeepers, each with a key that can be obtained by fulfilling a quest or demand. Gwen, who knows Alex is an angel, isn’t certain that she can trust him. He had hurt her when he suddenly ignored Gwen after learning she was someone else’s soul mate. But the multiverse excursion is filled with surprises: Other angels enlighten Gwen about the histories of both Alex and Jasper, namely Alex’s former angelic love, Eva. While Alex is envious of Gwen and Jasper’s closeness (Jasper’s healing requires skin-to-skin contact), Gwen has reason to believe that Alex’s love for Eva continues to smolder after millennia. Westbay’s novel hums with sexual tension. Gwen, for one, is clearly attracted to Alex and Jasper, and Jasper exacerbates her conflict by openly flirting with her (primarily to upset Alex). These scenes showcase the author’s ability to illustrate sexual tension without forgoing subtlety: “Something inside me, something greedy and lustful, had clawed its way to the surface….It wanted the heat that sizzled off of him, and it wanted it now.” The three main characters are complex individuals; though the narrative calls back events from the preceding book, it also continues to develop the cast with convincing backstories. Nevertheless, Jasper is a standout. He’s done something villainous (from the earlier installment, though it’s not the poisoning), but as the story progresses, he develops new feelings: guilt over his deed and genuine compassion for Gwen. At the same time, Gwen and Alex occasionally appear fickle, each of them endlessly going back and forth on whether they want to be together. There is, however, a later twist that, at least in part, explains their emotional discord. The final act entails a few other twists as well, all of which hold water, even if they’re sometimes predictable. There’s also copious suspense (Gwen’s in perpetual jeopardy), including encounters with creatures in other universes and one particularly dangerous quest. This book, like the first installment, ends with a sensational cliffhanger that may prompt readers to add Volume 3 to their reading lists.

Characters continually evolve and astonish in this exceptional supernatural tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 339

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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