A mystery tale that engagingly puts a spotlight on a lovable, floppy-eared pooch.

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SOUL HEELER

From the The Dudley Files series , Vol. 3

The third in Robinson’s (Burp Gun Bandit, 2014, etc.) detective series gives a steadfast canine companion his own origin story.

Anyone who’s read previous novels featuring Texan sleuth Careless knows that his Black Mouth Cur, Dudley, is always by his side. This time, the first-person narration is Dudley’s, starting back when he was born to a purebred litter. Genial breeder Heidi names him “King,” and he quickly learns that his siblings are “for sale” and sees them all taken away by other humans. Heidi, however, saves King for her dad, whose ranch is an ideal spot for a hunting breed. Sadly, her father isn’t keen on caring for a dog and doesn’t plan on keeping King around. The canine’s ensuing trek to Careless is an arduous one, eventually landing him in a shelter and later pitting him against much more aggressive animals in the wild. After he finally meets and bonds with his detective owner, he affectionately calls him “my human.” At first, Careless helps run the family steel business, but once he steps into the role of gumshoe, Dudley proves a true asset. Their first official case involves a missing country singer, Jake Harm, and it takes Careless’ smarts and Dudley’s nose to find a solution—and future detective work. Series readers will recognize the duo’s cases, all of which appear in earlier stories. The names and details are slightly different, but part of the charm of Dudley’s narrative is that although he thoroughly relays what’s happening, he doesn’t always understand everything. Robinson writes in a breezy style, accommodating Dudley’s single-mindedness by tackling one thing at a time. The story centers on the greatest canine traits (loyalty, protectiveness, and empathy) and sustains an amiable tone, as Dudley’s hardships never include abuse or anything equally harrowing. Perhaps best of all, Dudley’s account of the first two books in the series catches up to the latest’s cliffhanger and (somewhat) resolves it.

A mystery tale that engagingly puts a spotlight on a lovable, floppy-eared pooch.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Golden Hound Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

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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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