A fun thriller that will have readers rooting for the assassins, assuming readers don’t get bogged down in the meandering...

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Harms Done to Others

For Mira and Jo, falling in love is only the first adventure; the second is becoming professional assassins.

Mira, a bookish high school junior, has never had a relationship with anyone, but when she meets Jo, the new girl in school, she’s immediately smitten; the feeling is mutual. However, she quickly realizes that there’s something different about Jo, and it’s not just the fact that she’s a 20-year-old high school junior: she’s also a former addict. As Mira is introduced to Jo’s past, Jo in turn must be introduced to the gruesome tradition that has plagued her new school for the past 14 years—the disappearance of one student every year. When a student attacks Jo, she realizes who the killer is, and she and Mira embark upon an audacious plan to dispose of him. Following this, they are contacted by the mysterious Mr. Pitt, who is impressed with their work thus far…and wants them to continue. “There are bad people in the world, even evil people, who can’t be stopped by any conventional means,” he tells them. In his debut thriller, Cherry mostly delivers on this promising beginning. Readers will root for Jo and Mira as they learn the ropes of becoming professional. Their relationship, lovingly depicted, is one of the novel’s strongest points; Jo’s addiction is realistically handled, with Jo telling Mira early on: “Addiction is chronic, progressive, and fatal….No one escapes these three truths without recovery.” As much fun as it is to follow Jo and Mira as they progress from high school students to assassins, the novel sags in the middle, lingering too long on rambling missions that don’t serve the plot. Later, when a mission goes horribly wrong, the book finally finds its antagonist and its stakes, but this happens so late in the game that much of the book’s earlier tension has already deflated.

A fun thriller that will have readers rooting for the assassins, assuming readers don’t get bogged down in the meandering middle.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 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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