An energizing legal tale that shows the value of asking the right questions.

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BEAR'S PROMISE

A courageous lawyer seeks justice for his sister and her family in this novel.

Melanie Simpson is at her wits’ end when her husband, Jared, off his antipsychotic meds because of a recent job loss, runs out into a thunderstorm. She calls 911, a move that will change her loved ones’ lives. That’s because Lt. Vincenzo Sparafucile of the Hopperville police department in Indiana shocks Jared multiple times with the Taser-like “Electric Gun,” resulting in cardiac arrest and the black man’s eventual death. Jared’s initial vegetative state leads his son, Ryan, to take his father’s rifle to Sparafucile’s house, but the cop shoots him dead. Rocked by what has happened to her husband and son, Melanie commits suicide, leaving a note to her brother, Jason “Bear” Judge, to get justice for her family. Bear, a former FBI agent-turned-big-city attorney, had come west from New York City to support Melanie following Jared’s hospitalization. After her family is wiped out, Bear sues the makers of the Electric Gun for false safety claims and the Hopperville police for excessive force. His firm forces him out and he starts up a new practice in Indiana, aided by a talented young Kenyan associate. The two have to overcome several threats, both legal and illegal, in their effort to get justice for Melanie. What elevates this novel by Zipes is his weaving in such timely topics as police brutality toward minorities and individuals who are unable to afford essential drugs. The author, a Harvard Medical School graduate, is a professor at the Indiana University Medical Center. His career lends authenticity to the medical details that are at the heart of this story. In addition, he has created a well-rounded protagonist in Bear, a skillful interrogator who is determined to do the right thing despite an earlier mistake that continues to haunt him. Other enjoyable characters include Bear’s flawed but loving wife, Kat, and his brilliant associate, Deroshay “Shay” Odinga. The acts of intimidation against Bear’s team by the defendants seem heavy-handed but Zipes makes sure readers know who the villains are. The smooth narrative just flies along, both in and out of court. What results is a heady blend of legal thriller and social justice drama.

An energizing legal tale that shows the value of asking the right questions.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5320-7972-6

Page Count: 366

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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