A spicy outing that should feed readers’ hunger for romance.

READ REVIEW

The Congressman's Wife

The beautiful wife of a would-be congressman falls for a sexy chef in this steamy debut novel.

On the surface, Eden Bancroft seems the perfect political wife. Attractive and intelligent, she's a key part of her husband’s plan to win election to Congress. But a perfect exterior conceals a deeply dysfunctional marriage. After more than a decade together, Eden, a master sommelier, has fallen out of love with the dimwitted, selfish, and arrogant Mitchell, if she was ever really in love with him to begin with. Despite her growing disillusionment, Eden’s commitment to her three children and her financial dependence on her husband (and his wealthy mother) holds the marriage together. She hopes, at the very least, that if Mitchell wins a seat in the House of Representatives that her new duties “might add some zest to her life.” That is, until she meets the handsome chef Kaleb Stavros, for whom she feels a passion she never experienced for her husband. The two begin a clandestine romance. Mitchell, a smarmy, despicable jerk (he’s guilty of marital rape, among many other sins), remains oblivious to the affair but makes it clear he’ll do whatever is necessary to tame his restless wife and win the election. Readers should sympathize with Eden’s struggle to balance her overwhelming desire for Kaleb with the pressure to do what is right for her children. At times, however, it would be nice if she had a bit more agency. She initially embraces Mitchell to get out of a tough financial spot, and then relies on Kaleb to rescue her from a terrible marriage. But watching her fall deeply in love for the first time is enjoyable, and readers should get a vicarious thrill from the couple’s jaunts to Paris, Jamaica, Cyprus, and Jackson Hole. Foodies should also savor the mouthwatering descriptions of the delicious meals and fine wines that are served over the course of the book (at a dinner in Paris, “she had Boeuf Bourguignon and he had kidneys simmered in a delicate wine sauce”). The election night denouement strains credulity, but it remains a minor misstep in an otherwise enjoyable tale. 

A spicy outing that should feed readers’ hunger for romance.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Red Sky Presents

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2015

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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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