It’s as if Robb armed Offred, gave her backup, and turned Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fable into a comic book.

FAITHLESS IN DEATH

Lt. Eve Dallas follows the path from the murder of a West Village sculptor to a fearsomely powerful cult.

Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody’s snap forensic analysis in the apartment of Ariel Byrd suggests that the young woman enjoyed wine and sex shortly before she was beaten to death with her own mallet. The absence of a condom or any trace of seminal fluids suggests that her final partner was a woman—perhaps Gwendolyn Huffman, the friend who’d had an appointment to sit for a sculpture. Dallas and Peabody, who take against Gwen from the get-go, derive particular pleasure from attacking the tissue of lies she fed them during their first encounter, and their second, in one of the New York Police and Security Department's interrogation rooms, breaks her wide open. But Gwen didn’t kill her lover; that job seems to have fallen to a member of Natural Order, the cult the Rev. Stanton Wilkey founded with significant financial backing from Gwen’s wealthy parents. Natural Order had counted on Gwen’s ability to lure her fiance, millionaire attorney Merit Caine, into their clutches, and when Ariel threatened the impending nuptials, one of them took her out. But which one? As Dallas and Peabody see in a visit to the cult’s closely guarded compound, Wilkey runs a tight ship, and it’s hard to believe that any of his underlings would have gone freelance without authorization from their racist, misogynistic, anti-gay, rapist master. As the franchise heroine squares off against an outsize villain who ticks all the anti-social boxes, readers around the world will be united in their absolute certainty about what’s coming next.

It’s as if Robb armed Offred, gave her backup, and turned Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fable into a comic book.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7274-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

A TIME FOR MERCY

A small-town Mississippi courtroom becomes the setting for a trademark Grisham legal tussle.

Stuart Kofer is not a nice guy. He drinks way too much and likes to brawl. One night, coming home in a foul mood with a blood alcohol count more than triple the legal limit, he breaks his live-in girlfriend’s jaw. He’s done terrible things to her children, too—and now her 16-year-old boy, Drew, puts an end to the terror. Unfortunately for the kid in a place where uniforms are worshipped, Stu was a well-liked cop. “Did it really matter if he was sixteen or sixty? It certainly didn’t matter to Stu Kofer, whose stock seemed to rise by the hour,” writes Grisham of local opinion about giving Drew the benefit of the doubt. Jake Brigance, the hero of the tale, is a lawyer who’s down to his last dime until a fat wrongful-death case is settled. It doesn’t help his bank book when the meaningfully named Judge Omar Noose orders him to defend the kid. Backed by a brilliant paralegal whose dream is to be the first Black female lawyer in the county, he prepares for what the local sheriff correctly portends will be “an ugly trial” that may well land Drew on death row. As ever, Grisham capably covers the mores of his native turf, from gun racks to the casual use of the N-word. As well, he examines Bible Belt attitudes toward abortion and capital punishment as well as the inner workings of the courtroom, such as jury selection: “What will your jury look like?” asks a trial consultant, to which Jake replies, “A regular posse. It’s rural north Mississippi, and I’ll try to change venue to another county simply because of the notoriety.” The story runs on a touch long, as Grisham yarns tend to do, and it gets a bit gory at times, but the level of tension is satisfyingly high all the way to the oddly inconclusive end.

Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54596-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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