Since writing the ultimate modern espionage fiction—The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker, Tailor. Soldier, Spy—rigorous Mr. le Carre has understandably been setting himself new challenges; and sometimes he almost seems to be daring his audience to enjoy him. But storytelling genius isn't something you can hide, and readers thrived on The Honourable Schoolboy despite its wide, densely Dickensian fabric—just as they will be mesmerized by this superb new book despite its purposefully quiet, slow, downright claustrophobic austerity. Of course, part of the magic for le Carre veterans will be their devotion to British Intelligence buddha George Smiley, who's now in "dubious retirement," a retirement ended when one of Smiley's "people"—a fierce old Russian-emigre agent put out to pasture by the new, detente-minded Intelligence chiefs—is shot on Hampstead Heath after trying to reach Smiley with crucial evidence of. . . something. Smiley, dispatched by the Circus bosses to cover it all up, naturally does the opposite. He talks to the dead agent's pals, to his own old Circus colleagues like crusty, dying Connie (with the computer-memory) and that itchy old dandy Toby Esterhase. He goes to Hamburg and stumbles on a dead body. He gathers clues: letters to the dead agent from an old Russian woman in Paris who's been threatened into providing a cover identity for an unnamed Soviet female; blackmail photos of Soviet diplomats involved in something unauthorized by their government. And, when all the pieces and nuances are tested and fitted and held up to the light, they lead to. . . Karla, Smiley's nemesis, the Soviet spy-master responsible for all of Smiley's marital and professional grief in Tinker, Tailor. But what Karla is up to this time isn't tradecraft: it's personal, so personal that he has been breaking Soviet rules left and right—he's trying to get his schizophrenic daughter, now in a Swiss asylum, safely settled in the psychiatrically sophisticated West. Will Smiley take advantage of this disconcertingly human vulnerability in his arch-enemy? He must—and the last section of the book (after all that gentle coiling) is the inexorable, step-by-step Switzerland entrapment of Karla's confederates by Smiley's people, a project seen through to its glorious but joyless goal: the enforced defection of Russia's top spy. As always, the narrative is grand, the dialogue is even better,, and best of all is the warm, sadly ironic intelligence that colors even the tiniest of encounters. But one warning: the Smiley books really must be read in order, not just for the sake of their secrets, but in order to feel the full swing and pull of le Carre's triumph—perhaps the greatest variety, texture, and integrity ever bestowed upon a series character.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 1979

ISBN: 014311977X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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