It’s as if Orson Welles had gotten hold of an iPad. Though some fixes remain to be done, a top-notch production.

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THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

The tale that scared America silly in 1938, courtesy of Orson Welles, returns in a well-made app that would do a Martian invader proud.

H.G. Wells published The War of the Worlds in 1898, long before world-destroying technologies were available to frighten us in real life. The humans in it, famously, are unprepared when an armada of ill-intending Martians reaches the third stone from the sun and begins to blow things up willy-nilly. Eventually, though, they begin to mount resistance, and if some of the fighting takes place in the unlikely confines of rural England, so much the better for Wells’ first generation of readers. The developers at E-mersiv do Wells’ book a service by having fun with it. When the Martians begin to deploy their extremely nasty heat ray, for instance, or what Wells calls “this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat,” words on the page burn before readers’ eyes—a very neat bit of animation, that, matched with appropriately scarifying background noises that suggest sizzling and smoking. The score is not always the best; there are too many moments of tinkling piano and weird prog rock for comfort. But for its sonic lapses, the main body of the text is superb, giving new life to Wells’ words. This is nowhere more true than toward the end of app and novel, when the Martians have destroyed the center of the world: “London about me gazed at me spectrally,” Wells writes, a burned-up, bowled-over, blown-apart city of the dead, and the designer nicely reinforces the sense of doom and destruction by blackening the edges of the page as if a firestorm had passed over it. The text is easy to bookmark—so easy that it invites flagging favorite passages, in fact. The only poorly executed aspect of the package is a glossary pulled down by means of a readily accessible menu; it reads as if written by a non-native speaker of English—perhaps a Martian—and is uninformative (the opening gloss for “Narrator’s Wife,” for instance, is “Wife of the narrator”).

It’s as if Orson Welles had gotten hold of an iPad. Though some fixes remain to be done, a top-notch production.

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: E-mersiv

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2012

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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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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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