Under all the sumptuous detail, sensitive psychology, and incisive condemnation of industrial cartels, this is still at its...



In the absence of the Evil Empire, global capitalism takes it on the chin once more in this hypertrophied whodunit, the most intimate of le Carré’s thrillers since the salad days of George Smiley.

Tessa Quayle, an aid worker married to a much older career diplomat currently stationed in Nairobi, has always managed her ambiguous relationship to Sorbonne-trained African Dr. Arnold Bluhm with admirable discretion. But now the lid is blown off their companionship by the news that Tessa’s been found raped and murdered during an expedition she and Bluhm made from a North Kenyan lodge. Among the hothouse world of the British legation, which le Carré limns with merciless precision, the whispers start overnight, soon confirmed by the police announcement that the evidence against the missing Dr. Bluhm is conclusive. After hovering over Sandy Woodrow, who jeopardized his career as Head of Chancery in Nairobi when he sent Tessa a note asking her to elope with him, le Carré follows Tessa’s widower, inoffensive amateur gardener Justin Quayle, whose grilling by a pair of Scotland Yard officers fans into flame his suspicion that the confinement in Uhuru Hospital that ended his muckraking wife’s pregnancy in stillbirth revealed to her a secret dangerous enough to kill for. Beneath the ceremonious blather of the diplomatic corps, the police, the Home Office, and pharmaceutical giant Karel Vita Hudson, Justin finds a conspiracy as broad and greedy as the scandals of Single & Single (1999), and as ruthless in protecting its turf. He follows the trail from Italy to Germany to Canada to a showdown in the Sudan with a pitiable villain who, like everyone else in this elegantly overextended novel, just can’t stop talking.

Under all the sumptuous detail, sensitive psychology, and incisive condemnation of industrial cartels, this is still at its core the old, familiar story of a decent man driven to avenge the wife he never really knew.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-1505-2

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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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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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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