Not earthshaking, but an often entertaining discovery that ably sets up a sequel.

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A DEADLY DISCOVERY

The inventors of a world-changing technology flee for their lives from those who want it for themselves in Day’s debut thriller.

Phil McPherson, Tucker Cherokee, and Maya Li perhaps anticipated money, fame, and honors from the launch of their landmark invention. But Project REM-E9—which provides electricity without the need for a fuel source—doesn’t sit well with the Russians, the Chinese, the American coal industry, OPEC, and the shadowy Consortium of Nations. The inventors ill-advisedly post a video on YouTube about their discovery, and in short order, McPherson is dispatched by a “large Asian man whose name he would never learn.” That man, Gang Chung, is an industrial-espionage agent and a nasty piece of work: “As I promised, Dr. McPherson, you saved yourself a lot of pain,” he tells the deceased McPherson after shooting him in the forehead, and as a coup de grâce, he pours a cup of tea onto his dead body (“I asked for tea, not this swill”). Assassin Alex Smolonov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cousin, receives a note with his latest orders: “Don’t come back without the secrets of how to make the discovery work.” And then there’s “Stiletto-man,” who kidnaps the wife and daughter of a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency agent, in order to secure his cooperation in locating Cherokee. Day has the latter villain spout such B-movie-style threats as “I will perform sexual acts on them both if you don’t do exactly as I say.” The energy device at this book’s core is only a vaguely defined MacGuffin. The best techno-thrillers have a feeling of authenticity that’s rooted in deep tech knowledge, but in this area, the novel’s prose is as generic as the book’s title: “Whatever the disk did, it allowed her to bypass the username and password function.” That said, the story has one good energy source that keeps the pages turning: Day’s use of ominous foreshadowing, as in the line, “Little did Tucker know, that he would never again return to his apartment.” He also effectively leaves some instances of grisly violence to the reader’s imagination.

Not earthshaking, but an often entertaining discovery that ably sets up a sequel.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 12, 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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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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