Fans of crime dramas will find Clary’s suspenseful yarn a welcome addition to the genre and hope for more to come.

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Amicus Curiae

A rousing legal thriller about abduction, murder, and a dedicated lawyer struggling to come to terms with her complex personal and professional lives.   

Houston trial attorney Clary’s debut novel opens with the kidnapping of a naïve, rural Texas teenage girl, the seventh victim of a serial killer. Diligent, successful veteran attorney Michelle “Mickey” Grant is tense about the news. Her career is on the fast track, but her personal life has seen better days. As a consequence of her aggressive career ambitions, Mickey’s marriage disintegrated more than a year ago, and her ex-husband, Tyler Grant, was granted primary custody of their now-teenage daughter, Reagan. Her daughter fits the kidnapping victims’ type, so Mickey has become increasingly vigilant about Reagan’s whereabouts as the Christmas holiday draws close. Mickey excitedly anticipates spending a week with her, but then Reagan goes missing. Convicted felon and drug abuser Willie Lee Flynn is charged with the kidnappings right before the bloodied body of one of his alleged victims is found. Increasingly desperate for answers, Mickey attends the court trial; the cunning, tight-lipped Flynn is convicted on circumstantial evidence. Mickey remains unsatisfied, though, and visits Flynn in prison to question him further. Meanwhile, her relationship with Tyler gets messier due to an ill-conceived indiscretion. Mickey files a highly controversial amicus curiae brief in an attempt to retry Flynn and find out Reagan’s whereabouts—a move that puts Mickey’s life in jeopardy. Clary maintains a mood of dread and suspense throughout the novel and particularly excels during the vivid, tense trial scenes and his descriptions of his characters’ attributes, including Mickey’s attractiveness and the shifty police chief’s sartorial uniqueness—he wears a black suit, bolo tie, “and a vest that bulged under the strain from his sizable belly.” Overall, the author creates an imaginative, convincing cast of strong, memorable personalities who carry the mystery along at an impressive clip, although some details at the book’s conclusion seem a bit perfunctory.

Fans of crime dramas will find Clary’s suspenseful yarn a welcome addition to the genre and hope for more to come.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-8320-7

Page Count: 330

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

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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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