A well-told if rather straightforward tale that’s sure to please lovers of American history.

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THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF THE TRAITOR GEORGE WASHINGTON

This novel about the American Revolution imagines—well, the spoiler might be in the title.

Of course, the British have to get Washington first—to capture or kidnap him, depending on one’s viewpoint. In 1780, the First Minister of Great Britain, Lord North, orders Jeremiah Black to grab the “supreme traitor,” Gen. George Washington, and deliver him to justice. So Black sails to New Jersey, where the general and his staff are headquartered, to take him “back to England to stand trial for high treason.” One Loyalist thinks killing Washington would be simpler, but a trial in London might force the rebels to a settlement. Lord North wants a “thorough…and slow” investigation prior to the trial, to allow time to negotiate the war’s end. Meanwhile, King George III wants a trial and an execution of the rebel leader. Being more than 6 feet tall and disinclined to be cowed, Gen. Washington exudes an “aura of command” even when a group led by Black arrests him in the name of the king. “Sir, if I must die in defense of my country,” Washington says, “my life will be forfeit in a noble cause.” That’s a gutsy statement indeed, given that the likely conviction means mandatory hanging, disembowelment while still alive, then being quartered and beheaded. (Yikes!) North later marvels that Washington “sits even taller in the saddle than I expected,” feeding nicely into the narrative of the larger-than-life hero Americans learn about as children. Although Washington had become ill on the ocean crossing aboard the HMS Peregrine, the British largely treat him respectfully according to his rank, and he never, ever complains or shows fear right up to his trip to the gallows. Ethan Abbott of the Continental Congress arrives in London to negotiate Washington’s release, but without success, as the title foretells.

A well-told if rather straightforward tale that’s sure to please lovers of American history.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-335-20032-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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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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