An entertaining detective story set in the gritty Chicago underworld.



Musial (Hit Out, 2016, etc.) returns to the adventures of Max Deacon, pool hall private eye, in his latest crime novel.

Army veteran Max enjoys his life, such as it is: working his shifts at the Chicago pool hall owned by his friend Dougie, sparring with his buddy Moose Delavan in mixed martial arts, and spending his money on his customized Mustang GT. Max is always happy to help out the people he respects, like his colleague Sharon Petra, a single mother who holds two jobs to support her daughter, Selina. When Sharon asks Max to accompany her to a mysterious meeting—“You don’t have to do anything…I hope,” she tells him. “Just look menacing”—he goes along without complaint, even though he’s pretty sure she’s requesting a loan from some Czech gangsters. The next night, he finds out she’s been arrested for a triple murder. The prostitution kingpin whom Sharon met with was killed later that same day along with two of his associates, and she is the primary suspect in the crime. Sharon refuses to cooperate with the investigation or tell Max anything other than that she was trying to help her half sister. With the assistance of his brother Stan, a cop, Max takes it upon himself to clear Sharon’s name and get to the bottom of what is quickly becoming a deadly struggle among the roughest members of the Chicago underworld. Musial writes in a sharp, moody prose that is slightly too jocular to be truly noir: “Red and I played on and off, but always on Sunday nights. It wasn’t because he was a wonderful conversationalist; he was a conspiracy theorist who never shut up.” Despite his generic tough-guy flourishes—the Mustang, the pool, the whiskey, the physical prowess—Max is an oddly endearing hero whom readers genuinely root for. The plot in this installment isn’t terribly intricate or surprising—an old Army buddy’s reappearance plays out just as readers would expect—but the cast of lovable lowlifes who compose Max’s circle is enjoyable enough to keep audiences engaged. Hopefully, Musial will continue to deliver Max Deacon books for years to come.

An entertaining detective story set in the gritty Chicago underworld.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 218

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2017

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


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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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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