The author’s family is from Spain’s Basque region, which helps explain why an American writer would venture into this...

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ALL THAT FOLLOWED

A terrorist bombing in Madrid stirs up memories in a Basque town of a politician kidnapped and killed, an act that linked the political and the personal, in this thoughtful, ambitious debut.

The American teacher Joni has been in the town of Muriga for more than 50 years when an al-Qaida cell's 2004 attack on Madrid’s Atocha train station recalls a local episode of Basque separatist violence six years earlier, one of “these acts that erode the soul of a people.” In chapters that alternate among the voices of Joni; Mariana, the victim’s wife; and Iker, one of the kidnappers, Urza illuminates the before—from days to decades—and after of the abduction. Mariana remembers that while her husband pursued party politics in Bilbao half the week, she was having an affair with the young American teacher who came to Muriga to replace the elderly Joni at the local school. Iker speaks from his prison cell, recalling how he was drawn reluctantly from truancy and vandalism to violence even as he sought a way out of the town through English lessons with Joni. And the American teacher, whose early years in Muriga were scarred by deep love and loss that cemented him to the town, finds his friendship with Mariana collapsing in the wake of her husband’s death. Urza’s fragmented, cinematic structure can confuse with its disjointed chronology, yet it works well to let each member of the trio reveal a different segment of the town’s populace and history. While Iker’s crime grew from the pointless acts and energy of youth and Mariana’s infidelity was enabled by party politics, Joni’s long-ago lover could recall seeing her father shot by Franco’s men at the former army barracks that came to serve as the high school where Joni taught students like Iker.

The author’s family is from Spain’s Basque region, which helps explain why an American writer would venture into this fraught history, and Urza does so convincingly, revealing the human faces behind the masks of terrorism and its collateral damage.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-243-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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

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