THE FLORENTINE DECEPTION

In Nachenberg’s thriller debut, a computer-security expert finds evidence that a 137-carat diamond is stashed somewhere, but dangerous people may be looking for the same thing.

Alex Fife is living comfortably after he and his college pals sold their cybersecurity startup company to ViruTrax. Cleaning up a computer from an estate sale, Alex learns that its now-dead owner, Richard Lister, an archaeologist, may have been peddling the Florentine Diamond, stolen nearly a century ago. Alex sees a potential for adventure and checks out Richard’s house, which is on the market, where Alex is convinced Richard has hidden the diamond. But he soon realizes that someone else may want the precious stone (he hears someone creeping around the house late at night). A prospective buyer, unaware that Richard’s dead, sends angry emails to Richard’s account, vaguely threatening the deceased’s brother, Ronald. But what Richard was trying to sell may be about much more than the diamond. The author’s novel boasts equal servings of excitement, suspense and humor. Alex makes an offer on the house just so his engineer friend Steven can pose as an inspector and have good reason to scour the place; Steven hams up his performance for a realtor, superfluously (but hilariously) donning a fake mustache. The latter half of the novel is more exhilarating, as more than one formidable foe is revealed, and Alex, along with a few friends, is indisputably in peril. The protagonist initially is selfish—his apparent interest in finding the diamond is to combat boredom—but his ultimate determination to help Ronald will garner him plenty of sympathy with readers. He’s also a believable hero, not immune to making mistakes or being stumped by seemingly simple tasks. Getting access to Richard’s body at the UCLA Medical School—it may hold the key to getting inside a secured panic room—turns out to be an arduous undertaking; it’s also the book’s highlight, as it features Alex’s grandfather, Papa, who charmingly plays the part of a sickly old man by humming softly to himself. Computer terminology is clear enough without overelaboration, and Alex’s final chance to stop the baddies appropriately returns to where it all started—in front of a computer.


Tackles multiple genres—thriller, action, comedy—and champions each one with panache.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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?

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