by Hank Scheer ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2023
A self-assured thriller that’s centered on intriguing medical and sociological topics.
A scientist’s attempt to cure Alzheimer’s disease makes her a target for international criminals in Scheer’s thriller.
Sarah Brenalen is a pharmacologist who oversees studies at the Memory Research Institute in Portola Valley, California. In her quest to cure Alzheimer’s disease, she’s created a drug called T-3 to test her theory that researchers can “strengthen a brain by attacking it”; her notion is that the brain will defend itself and come back stronger than before. However, her T-3 ends up destroying higher brain functions in mice and rendering them comatose. One day, as she’s jogging on San Gregorio Beach, an “older, well-dressed man” named Marcel pulls a gun on her. He wants her to drop a sample of T-3 in a fast-food restaurant’s bathroom for easy pickup. He also sneaks a tracking device onto her and gives her a phone that allows his group to eavesdrop on her life. He warns her against contact with anyone, even her boyfriend, Rogelio. Marcel later explains that he’s a Parisian working for the French government’s Direction du Renseignement Militaire to eliminate a terrorist group called Jaysh Allah, and he pays her $2 million. However, despite his explanations, Sarah is certain that he can’t be trusted. Scheer’s debut novel offers readers an engaging medical mystery, after which the plot becomes a swiftly paced thriller. The true nature of Marcel’s group remains skillfully hidden until Sarah goes to Paris herself. At that point, the author gives readers a tour of the city’s slightly lesser-known highlights, such as the Musée d’Orsay. Sometimes plot points fit together too seamlessly, such as the fact that Sarah’s interest in music recording helps her in her struggle against Marcel’s surveillance. Later, the story effectively builds a sense of menace without becoming overly explicit. Overall, Sarah is a capable and appealing protagonist, and a canny plot twist gives the narrative geopolitical heft and spurs interest in what might happen next.A self-assured thriller that’s centered on intriguing medical and sociological topics.
Pub Date: March 14, 2023
Page Count: 279
Publisher: Top Reads Publishing
Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2023
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Stephen King ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.
Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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SEEN & HEARD
by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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