A riveting but grim and unflinching tale of two assassins.



From the Blood on the Earth series , Vol. 1

In this debut thriller, the head of a newly formed organized crime unit searches for killers after a mob-related act of vengeance ignites a series of murders.

Denny Pogue, a New York college professor driving to work, fatally hits a boy on a bicycle. But as the boy was the son of Jimmy Morretti, who runs a criminal empire, authorities suspect the worst when Pogue later turns up missing. Meanwhile, Ben Hawkins, a contractor who once tracked down fugitives for the FBI, becomes the head of the Organized Crime Task Force. Before Hawkins can delve into Morretti’s crimes, which soon include Pogue’s homicide, someone starts taking out members of the mobster’s crew. Unexpectedly, another string of murders may have ties to these homicides, as some of the victims are associated with “assassin bureaus.” The OCTF’s theory is that a second culprit is hunting the contract killer targeting Morretti’s men. So there’s a chance Pogue’s relatives are in danger, as Morretti may conclude they hired the first assassin. While Hawkins and his team hunt both killers, the second one is “particularly savage,” and innocents sadly die in all the chaos. And if the assassins realize the OCTF is on to them, they may go underground. Lavi certainly doesn’t pull any punches in his hard-hitting tale. The murders are plentiful and especially coldblooded when involving family members and witnesses. Furthering the somber tone are perspectives from both killers, who, as professionals, are frighteningly methodical. Nevertheless, Hawkins, despite ongoing troubles such as a taste for alcohol, is sympathetic: He has endearing conversations with his wife, Vanessa, and, as a Black man, is no stranger to racism. The story moves at a steady clip thanks to shifting locales in various United States cities and brutal, concise confrontations that occasionally spin off into gunfights or close combat.

A riveting but grim and unflinching tale of two assassins.

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4991-9103-5

Page Count: 338

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2020

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


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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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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