A tense, absorbing thriller that explores the complex bonds of sisterhood as seen through the eyes of a strong, capable...

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THE SECOND SISTER

A woman searches for the truth about her sister’s long-ago disappearance when new evidence comes to light.

Ten years ago, when Melanie “Ella” Brooke was 20, her 30-year-old sister, Miranda, disappeared, leaving Ella and their parents to care for her 10-week-old son, Luke, in Bath. There was speculation that murderer Jason Thorne could have had something to do with it, and he’s now languishing in a high security psychiatric hospital. New evidence certainly points to Thorne: Miranda supposedly called him a month before she disappeared. Ella wants to speak to Thorne, hoping to gain some insight, but her parents don’t approve, and neither does Ted, a policeman she’s known since they were 4 and who was her first love. When the police return a box of her sister’s things, Ella starts going through the contents, uncovering more questions about Miranda. How did Miranda, a nurse, afford a BMW and the purchase of an elegant flat, and why did she never reveal the identity of Luke’s father? Meanwhile, the attentions of handsome psychiatrist Adam Holderness, who accompanies her when she visits Thorne, aren’t unwelcome, but they’re a distraction in Ella’s single-minded pursuit of the truth. Ella, who narrates as if she’s speaking to her sister, appears prickly at times, but her standoffish nature seems to have emerged from being a woman constantly in her more outgoing sister’s shadow until she was forced to make her way in the world on her own. If there’s any question about her empathy, it’s put to rest in the way she interacts with the women, and men, who seek her help in escaping abusive relationships through her job as a self-defense trainer and especially in her fierce love for her nephew. Readers may have to suspend disbelief as the threads start to weave together with the help of more than a few coincidences, but Kendal’s (The Book of You, 2014) considerable storytelling prowess saves the day.

A tense, absorbing thriller that explores the complex bonds of sisterhood as seen through the eyes of a strong, capable woman who will stop at nothing in her very personal quest for answers.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-229764-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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