Less antic than some of its waggish hero’s earlier chronicles but still manically inventive, proudly undisciplined, and...



Isaac Sidel, last seen (Under the Eye of God, 2012) as vice president–elect, becomes president when his top guy is forced to resign. Fireworks ensue, most of them not especially patriotic.

Swept into the second spot and then the top spot by the Slaughter of ’88, Isaac finds himself with a lot less power than when he was the Pink Commish, and later the mayor, of New York. His trusted chief of staff, Brenda Brown, has fled the Beltway madness; her successor, Ramona Dazzle, seems to think keeping her boss in the dark is at the heart of her job description; and there are rumors that Vice President Bull Latham is really running the country. Dazzled by the constant conflicts between everybody and everybody else, Isaac soon realizes that the real power brokers are unelected thugs, financiers, and apparatchiks like Gen. Raymond Tollhouse, head of private-security octopus Wildwater; Baron Pierre de Robespierre, Renata’s Swiss banker; German publishing baron Rainer Wolff; and Viktor Danzig, the tattoo artist dubbed Rembrandt for his flawless counterfeit $50 bills. Counterfeiting indeed provides a radical figure for the action here, although prolific, multitalented Charyn (Jerzy, 2017, etc.) floats enough demotic metaphors within some paragraphs to swamp the nominal action. Isaac, “a clown with a Glock” adrift in a world in which anything can happen to anyone by the end of any sentence, bounces like a bagatelle ball from a school for assassins to the Sons of Rossiya and an uprising at Rikers, where he earns the headline “POTUS TOP COP” before achieving the ultimate Oval Office accolades: Saul Bellow compares him to Isaac’s beloved Augie March, and Danzig tells him that “he was now a registered werewolf.”

Less antic than some of its waggish hero’s earlier chronicles but still manically inventive, proudly undisciplined, and peopled with dark lords and ladies best characterized by wildly inflated epithets—in other words, nothing at all like any presidencies since 1988.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-348-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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