A pleasure for Grisham fans and an undemanding addition to the beach bag.

CAMINO WINDS

A tempest is bearing down, and murder most foul is afoot in Grisham’s latest whodunit.

Call it a metamystery: Grisham, prolific producer of courtroom thrillers, moves the action to a Florida resort island populated by mystery writers. In the wake of a ravaging hurricane, one of them turns up dead—a nice, affable fellow named Nelson Kerr, a former trial lawyer who “ratted out a client, a defense contractor who was illegally selling high-tech military stuff to the Iranians and North Koreans.” It’s not hard to understand that the client might want Kerr dead. But then, so would others whom Kerr has written about, including money launderers and—well, let’s just say other entrepreneurs who wouldn’t like their activities to be described in any detail. Enter bookstore owner Bruce Cable, friend, drinking buddy, and sometime editor and adviser of Kerr and other members of Camino Island’s literary crowd, including “an ex-con who’d served time in a federal pen for sins that were still vague.” Cable is perhaps Grisham’s least sympathetic hero; he drinks night and day, sleeps around, and has few apparent scruples. At least he’s not a lawyer. Neither is he a cop, though he’s quicker on the scene than the island’s homicide investigator—“I didn’t know we had a homicide guy,” Bruce allows, since murder is rare in these parts. That leaves it to him, an intern, a girlfriend, and assorted other players to piece together what happened to the unfortunate Mr. Kerr, who, it must be said, is dispatched in a way nicely in keeping with Floridian lifestyles. Grisham’s tale unfolds at a leisurely pace, never breaking into a sweat, and if the bad guys seem a touch too familiar, the rest of the cast make a varied and believable lot, and some might even be fun to ride out a storm with, at least if they're unarmed.

A pleasure for Grisham fans and an undemanding addition to the beach bag.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54593-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

THE CELLIST

Gabriel Allon goes after the deadliest weapon at the Russian president’s disposal—his money.

When CIA agent–turned–art dealer Sarah Bancroft finds the dead body of Viktor Orlov, a wealthy newspaper publisher and Russian dissident, the grim discovery leads Gabriel Allon, the head of Israel’s intelligence service, to a treasure trove of documents detailing massive financial crimes. Once he tracks down the woman who leaked these documents, Gabriel may finally have the tools he needs to take down the autocrat in the Kremlin. “A nuclear bomb can only be dropped once. But money can be wielded every day with no fallout and no threat of mutually assured destruction.” This bit of wisdom comes from a Russian operative Gabriel captured in The Other Woman (2018), and Silva makes a persuasive case that the best way to neutralize the threat of troll farms and disinformation campaigns is to starve these operations of cash. But this is a thriller, not an essay in Foreign Policy. It turns out that money laundering isn’t inherently exciting, and Silva does little to make it so. Identifying the shadowy figure who manages the Russian president’s fortune is easy, as is infiltrating his world. All the characters in this universe are types, but most of them are crafted with verisimilitude sufficient to keep the reader engaged. The titular cellist, Isabel Brenner, is a beautiful blond blank. It’s not at all clear why she makes the transition from functionary at a dirty bank to amateur spy willing to risk her life to ruin oligarchs. In previous novels, Silva wove in chapters written from the points of view of the bad guys. This technique creates dramatic irony, and it has given us some truly terrific villains—horrifying sadists and gleeful monsters of corruption who make excellent foils for the nearly superhuman Gabriel. Past installments have also given Gabriel's team more to do, and it’s impossible not to miss them and their spycraft.

As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-283486-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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