Savill’s first novel shows his deep compassion for and understanding of two earth-shattering events. Fans of British author...

READ REVIEW

THEY ARE TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART

A literary debut that connects the Bosnian civil war with the Indian Ocean tsunami, two horrific disasters a decade apart.

Human rights researcher Anya Teal is trying to hunt down a man named Kemal Lekic 10 years after the 1990s war. She looks at the photo in the obituary that praises him as a war hero and thinks he's "handsome enough she had to remind herself of what he had done," deeds that early on the reader must guess at. He’d been a brigade commander from Stovnik in Bosnia, and he’d been presumed killed in a heavy shelling. No one could find his body, and he was “buried” in an empty casket in 1995. Kemal's best friend, Marko Novak, considers him to be “the hero who died…the only one whose life made any sense of the war.” But Anya follows plausible rumors that he survived and is living in Thailand in 2004. Conveniently, her old flame William Howell is an English teacher in Bangkok, and she hopes they can get together again. Anya has studied Bosnia and written a dissertation called “Rape as a Weapon of War,” and she wonders if Kemal was one of the rapists. Scenes move back and forth from postwar Bosnia to pre- and post-tsunami Thailand; just before the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and massive “concertina of energy” in the ocean, Anya says to William in Kao Lak: “I love that we can hear the sea.” Back in Bosnia, Marko thinks, “I’ve lost my childhood, have you seen it anywhere?” That sums up the sense of pointless loss that so many survivors of the Bosnian War must have felt. Little seems to happen in the story’s early stages, and the pace overall does not leave the reader breathless. And readers may wonder what a five-page chapter about skateboarding is doing just before the book’s end, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Savill’s first novel shows his deep compassion for and understanding of two earth-shattering events. Fans of British author William Boyd, take note.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63286-546-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more