BLOOD TEST

A disappointing second outing for California child-psychologist Alex Delaware (When The Bough Breaks, 1985); this time he tracks down a little boy desperately in need of cancer treatment. Narrator-sleuth Delaware lives in semiretirement, feeding his koi and practicing self-hypnosis, but when his friend Dr. Raoul Melendez-Lynch of the Western Pediatric Medical Center calls to tell him that the parents of a little boy with cancer want to remove him from treatment, Alex agrees to help. He meets Garland and Emma Swope, the parents, their daughter Nona (a sultry, surly beauty), and the sick boy, Woody. Both he and Melandez-Lynch think the Swopes want to take Woody back to the little town of La Vista, in Southern California, to receive holistic treatment from a cult called The Touch, run by a crazy-like-a-fox ex-California lawyer calling himself Noble Matthias (the entire cult turns out to be a front for his cocaine operation). But when Woody disappears, a search of the cult's country retreat turns up nothing—instead, Garland and Emma are found murdered in a ravine, and Nona is missing. Delaware starts sleuthing in earnest and discovers that Woody is actually Nona's son—the product of an incestuous relationship between Garland and Nons. Meanwhile, Nona is having an affair with La Vista Sheriff Ray Houten, who is actually her father, having had an affair years before with Emma—although Ray is blissfully unaware of this. Delaware finally tracks Nona down to a sleazy trailer where she's living with a crazy beach boy/male prostitute named Doug Carmichael, and hiding Woody, who's burning up with fever. Carmichael nearly kills Delaware (as he'd killed the Swopes after kidnapping Woody with Nons); But Houten shows up, kills Carmichael, and is himself killed by Nons after she tauntingly tells him the terrible truth about their relationship. Nons is arrested, and Delaware brings Woody back in time to save his life. A twisted, contrived, and turgid story with red herrings the size of small whales, and a stumbling, murky finale.

Pub Date: March 1, 1986

ISBN: 0345466616

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1986

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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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THE LAST TRIAL

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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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