Some thrills, but in the end this asks too much of the hero, and of the reader.



Simon Riske returns for another high-octane ride.

Something of a modern Renaissance man, reformed thief and Marseilles gangster Riske blends a criminal youth with more socially acceptable adult activities and, in addition to his day job as a restorer of world-class sports cars, markets himself as a high-end fixer. When the novel opens, he is engaged in stealing back a Monet first stolen from the Rijksmuseum. Predictable complications arise, allowing Riske to show off his admirable driving skills, and the stage is set. In this somewhat murky installment, Riske is asked to mediate the release of Rafael de Bourbon, an old friend who is being held by Thai officials on questionable charges, but before he can secure the man's freedom, de Bourbon and several others are killed in a shootout. It turns out Rafa was privy to a large-scale swindle involving the sovereign wealth funds of several nations, and he was killed to preserve the secrets of the swindle. Riske naturally decides to pursue justice for Rafa and to uncover the swindle, partly to benefit Rafa's wife, who once had a thing with Riske. If all this seems a little contrived, fear not, there's more. Part of the loot amassed in the swindle has gone to a secret account, and in a parallel subplot it's revealed that this money is being used to subvert European efforts to accommodate and resettle refugees: Rich nationalistic racists are bankrolling a suicide-bomb mission that will once and for all destroy any humanitarian impulses European governments might have. As Riske uncovers the details of the wealth-fund thefts he also begins to unravel the connections to the rich nationalists, and eventually the two investigations become one. Riske is a likable character, a nice blending of quick wit, a misspent youth, and better impulses; he's not above picking a pocket or stealing a Ferrari, but he's on the side of the angels. In this adventure, however, he seems inappropriately pitted against social and economic forces of grave and genuine magnitude. Fascist forces are loose in the world, refugees perish horribly trying to secure a future, and there's Riske, tootling along in a borrowed (legitimately, this time) Ferrari, headed to Cannes to make it right. Riske can steal your Monet back, Riske can save your boy and secure your inheritance, but save the world? Simon Riske?

Some thrills, but in the end this asks too much of the hero, and of the reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-31645-601-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.


A small-town Mississippi courtroom becomes the setting for a trademark Grisham legal tussle.

Stuart Kofer is not a nice guy. He drinks way too much and likes to brawl. One night, coming home in a foul mood with a blood alcohol count more than triple the legal limit, he breaks his live-in girlfriend’s jaw. He’s done terrible things to her children, too—and now her 16-year-old boy, Drew, puts an end to the terror. Unfortunately for the kid in a place where uniforms are worshipped, Stu was a well-liked cop. “Did it really matter if he was sixteen or sixty? It certainly didn’t matter to Stu Kofer, whose stock seemed to rise by the hour,” writes Grisham of local opinion about giving Drew the benefit of the doubt. Jake Brigance, the hero of the tale, is a lawyer who’s down to his last dime until a fat wrongful-death case is settled. It doesn’t help his bank book when the meaningfully named Judge Omar Noose orders him to defend the kid. Backed by a brilliant paralegal whose dream is to be the first Black female lawyer in the county, he prepares for what the local sheriff correctly portends will be “an ugly trial” that may well land Drew on death row. As ever, Grisham capably covers the mores of his native turf, from gun racks to the casual use of the N-word. As well, he examines Bible Belt attitudes toward abortion and capital punishment as well as the inner workings of the courtroom, such as jury selection: “What will your jury look like?” asks a trial consultant, to which Jake replies, “A regular posse. It’s rural north Mississippi, and I’ll try to change venue to another county simply because of the notoriety.” The story runs on a touch long, as Grisham yarns tend to do, and it gets a bit gory at times, but the level of tension is satisfyingly high all the way to the oddly inconclusive end.

Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54596-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


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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