A fast-paced and thought-provoking legal thriller built around the hot-button issue of immigration.




A heroic federal judge will stop at nothing to save the life of his son.

Ricci’s first novel stars U.S. District Judge Edward Lamport, a stern and upright magistrate with a “demonstrated ability to separate his personal feelings from his professional duty,” a trait that he doesn’t necessarily like. He’s overseen several controversial cases in his California jurisdiction, and he’s no stranger to facing threats of violence arising from his rulings. As the tale opens, one such threat has the U.S. marshals worried enough to issue Lamport body armor and prep him in firearms. So the judge is already on high alert when he gets a panicked text message from Alana Walsh, his first love, whom he knew and left before he married his wife, Jacqui. Alana calls him from Mexico to tell him their son, Carlos, is in trouble: while working for a large Mexican bank, he’d uncovered evidence hinting that the institution was involved in laundering money for drug cartels. Now he believes his life is in danger, and he and his mother are imploring Lamport to help Carlos immigrate to the United States. Not only do cartel enforcers want him dead, but immigration itself is an explosive topic in Lamport’s California as well. A controversial new proposition is seen by some as “backhanded oppression” of the state’s large population of illegal immigrants. The judge naturally attempts to call in favors from political friends, but when his efforts gain curiously little traction, it begins to look like the plot Carlos uncovered goes even deeper than it initially seemed. Ricci handles the admittedly front-loaded momentum of his narrative with the skill of a practiced professional; he has the patience and sound ear to create his characters—particularly Lamport—as much from dialogue and quick, telegraphic thoughts as from overt scene-setting. The author’s overlay of Christian elements onto the enormously readable story is subtly and believably done. (When Alana first contacts Lamport, she tells him that Carlos said “he had a plan and he trusted God to protect him.”) Ricci delivers that rare bird, an action novel that should appeal equally to Christian and non-Christian readers. This is an extremely promising and muscular debut.

A fast-paced and thought-provoking legal thriller built around the hot-button issue of immigration.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5039-3477-1

Page Count: 444

Publisher: Waterfall Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 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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