Dynamic characters—good and bad guys alike—beef up this action-laden tale.




An NYPD cop heading a counterterrorism unit tries to stop a sleeper cell in the U.S. from launching a strike in this debut thriller.

Capt. Jimmy Gallagher’s first case as commander of the Organized Crime Terrorist Unit is a homicide in Brooklyn. The victim “appears to be” Middle Eastern, and the unusual method of strangulation—leaving a hole in the neck—is reminiscent of al-Qaida’s M.O. for dispatching its own. Tracking the victim via security footage ultimately leads to a gunfight involving a man later identified as a known terrorist on the FBI’s watch list. Authorities not only suspect a domestic terror cell, but a potential link to Russians as well. Indeed, readers know that a group has been prepping suicide bombers strapped with vests of C-4. Jimmy, meanwhile, faces opposition from Department Chief Jim Gates, who was a rival of the captain’s former cop/private investigator father and is currently the mayor’s longtime friend. Furthermore, Gates established the OCTU six months earlier and doesn’t like that the police commissioner took the largely ineffective unit away from him. The chief’s connections could place Jimmy’s career in jeopardy, but that doesn’t stop him from putting his life on the line to ensure the terrorists don’t fulfill their explosive intentions. While Monaghan’s novel has its share of action, most of it is reserved for the final act, with the preceding pages rife with character development. The story offers absorbing exposition, particularly in its concentration on the villains: meticulous details on the methodical construction of explosives and more specifically on a man named Ibrahim, who may be second-guessing his participation in a terrorist attack. At the same time, Jimmy’s curious back story entails accidentally killing his partner in a shootout and dating department psychologist Dr. Jessica Shore. Unfortunately, neither incident has much impact on the main plot, even Jimmy and Jessica’s eventual romance. Nevertheless, there’s a steady pace throughout, including the frequent dialogue exchanges, while Jimmy turns into the kind of protagonist who can easily carry his own series.

Dynamic characters—good and bad guys alike—beef up this action-laden tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-940773-23-0

Page Count: 314

Publisher: History Publishing Company, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2017

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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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