Bloomsday meets The Twilight Zone via a winding and densely philosophical sci-fi tale packed into a slim volume.

READ REVIEW

KILLING TIME

In a future, high-tech Dublin, bounty hunters search for clones who possess a momentous secret linked to a distant planet. 

This literary sci-fi novel from Sparling (The Western Killer, 2015) takes place largely in future Dublin, and there is a too-easy temptation to associate it with Joyce’s Dubliners. Just add robots and crank up the lyrical/bardic quality of the storyteller’s language and ruminations. A free-roaming and chronologically recursive narrative reveals that, thanks to geography, Dublin has largely weathered the climate change that spawned jungles throughout the rest of Ireland. But society remains at the mercy of organized crime, and a cruel new hostage scheme has kidnappers plugging comatose victims into transparent automaton exoskeletons wired with bombs. When they go on bank-robbing sprees, police cannot interfere because the hulks are technically innocent bystanders. High in the rackets is a woman named Quennie. Her one-time mentor and the father of her son, Rohan, was one of four clones commissioned by a mysterious adventurer and space-war fugitive guarding a consciousness-altering resource on a distant planet. Knowing the mob would never leave him alone about it, he seeded himself in the scattered clones so the secret would survive. Now bounty hunters are targeting the clones, and Rohan must complete the quest. In the interstitials and marginalia of the drifting narrative, Sparling laments the addled condition of poor Homo sapiens, burdened with self-destructive greed, lust, violence, addictions, and existential dread. Characters thirst for meaning and hope in a transitory universe where God seems to have found better things to do—lofty thoughts indeed, beyond ray-gun stuff, strongly expressed with a great deal of passion. Wisely, the material has the page count of a trim book of verse rather than the brick-thick exegesis preferred by a few scribes of experimental sci-fi. Nor does Sparling make the mistake of imitating the style of sci-fi’s grandmaster poet/philosopher (and confirmed Hibernophile) Ray Bradbury. A subplot about a war between galactic empire kingdoms, the “Khans” and the “Cantonese,” is either a jarring, far-out intrusion or a coded metaphor for more mundane, terrestrial matters—as could be the entire novel, for that matter.

Bloomsday meets The Twilight Zone via a winding and densely philosophical sci-fi tale packed into a slim volume.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2018

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