Asher has a great voice for crime fiction; hopefully he’ll use it frequently.

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DAMAGE DAY, FLA

Asher (Olivia Jane Doe, 2013) proves he has what it takes to make an entertaining book about noble lowlifes and con games.

Kip hadn’t seen his brother Jack in 10 years before showing up at his bar in Naples, Florida, hoping to land a job. A decade before, Jack left Ohio and his family behind in a flurry of kiss-offs and bad blood; he became somewhat of a legend for opening up his own bar, so much so that restless younger brother Kip reaches out to him for a job. When Kip meets Jack and his bodyguard, Carter, known as the “Cowboy,” it’s clear that Jack is into some shady dealings. The Riot Bar is off the beaten path but frequented by the worst element in town, all of whom seem to know Jack. Kip wants that for himself, and Jack reluctantly agrees to take him under his wing. Complications crop up immediately, as it seems Jack has some debts and personal drama, chiefly with a fresh-in-town 18-year-old firecracker of a woman nicknamed Davie. She’s involved with Jack, who doesn’t take well to fidelity. Things quickly go south. Kip develops a bit of a crush on cunning and inscrutable Davie, and he agrees to her scheme to win over his brother via a plan that includes shaking down a connected nightclub owner. The pace picks up on a wonderfully amusing ride with pitch-perfect dialogue and twists that come up too quickly to predict. Asher’s chief talent is his ear for dialogue. Conversations are snappy and have the smart-alecky feel of solid crime noir. Personalities emerge through dialogue as well as action, and Asher’s narrative wastes little time dwelling on anyone’s inner monologue save Kip’s. The narrative is stylized and sarcastic—perhaps a drawback for some readers, but it fits the tone of the book perfectly. For instance, after a character has been beaten to a bloody mess, he holds a gun to the people who administered the blows: “He pointed the gun, but did so with staggering laziness. But the gun was pointed. However lackluster it was didn’t seem to matter. A gun tends to do that.”

Asher has a great voice for crime fiction; hopefully he’ll use it frequently.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

ALL ADULTS HERE

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.

Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a 68-year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses." Elliot, her oldest, who's in real estate, lives in Clapham with his wife, Wendy, who's Chinese American, and their twins toddlers, Aidan and Zachary, who are "such hellions that only a fool would willingly ask for more." Astrid's daughter, Porter, owns a nearby farm producing artisanal goat cheese and has just gotten pregnant through a sperm bank while having an affair with her married high school boyfriend. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub (Modern Lovers, 2016, etc.) draws her characters warmly, making them appealing in their self-centeredness and generosity, their insecurity and hope. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters. Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu.

With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59463-469-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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