A thoughtful and highly readable legal thriller.

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THE WEIGHT

A famous Texas trial lawyer becomes a plaintiff in this third installment of a series.

Cal Connors, the well-known Fort Worth prosecutor of dubious morality, is suing Texas Matters Magazine over a damning profile that he believes will hurt his reputation—as well as bring him unwanted attention from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The author of the article, veteran reporter Leah Rosen, has recently suffered a setback of her own: the man who tortured and sexually assaulted her (at the request, she believes, of Connors himself in an attempt to quash her story) recently beat the charges against him by outlawyering the state. When Rosen learns that Connors is now suing her in a multimillion-dollar defamation case, she seeks representation from the one attorney who turned Connors down: his longtime rival, Jace Forman. With a history of defending corporations against the suits of individuals, Jace is uniquely suitable for the job, but Connors and his daughter Christine will stop at nothing to retain their family secrets and the fortune that they protect. Things are big in Texas, but the world of the law is small, and the shared history of all those involved will make this a particularly emotional case—one that may leave Jace questioning if he made the right decision when he said no to Connors. With typically taut and colorful prose, Crouch (The Word, 2015, etc.) enlivens even the thorniest legal concepts that propel his intricate plot. Jace is a complicated and not always endearing hero, and through his worldview, the book manages to shine a light on some of the problems with the way cases are litigated in this country. “That’s what’s wrong with the system,” a private investigator reminds Jace early in the novel. “The rich can pay for some hotshot lawyer and walk, while some poor kid from the projects does time for having a few grams of cocaine.” In this latest volume of the Jace Forman series, there are more than enough hotshot lawyers to go around, and even the rich may have a hard time buying the outcomes they desire.

A thoughtful and highly readable legal thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 283

Publisher: Serpentine Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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