The glimmering continuation of a detailed, emotionally rich saga.

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Countryside

THE TEARS OF ADINA

Cope’s sequel to Countryside: The Book of the Wise (2014) sees young Luke and his friends try to outwit a villainous hunter to find the location of a magical artifact.

Luke Rayburn, the 12-year-old scion of the magical town called Countryside, has spent his summer vacation with his family on the island of Shalloke, off the coast of the Carolinas. Before returning to their secret home, the Rayburn clan encounters bane wolves. Luke uses his light training to protect himself with darkness, but his father soon chastises him against doing so again: “It twists your senses and it scars your soul.” The boy also learns that a suspicious character he saw on the train ride home—a grizzled hunter—leads the wolf-pack using darkness. After returning home, Luke helps defend a burning orchard against gnomes and begins further training with Mayeem (a mermaid) and Samech (a centaur). Luke then hears a campfire tale about tragic lovers Peter and Anora—but perhaps the fate of these fictional characters, which is tied up with the wolves’, contains a grain of truth. Eventually, the young hero grows frustrated with the adults keeping him from learning more about the Book of the Wise; aided by Matt, Sam, and a few others, he leaps into the fray against the evil threatening Countryside. Cope uses this second outing, with its large magical cast, to weave another satisfying mystery and continue the long game of his overall tale. Early on, he reminds readers that a prophetic red star to the north foretells doom with the line, “Seems higher this year...Only six years left.” His dynamic of light and darkness recalls Star Wars, as does the mystical theme that “everything is made of the Flame” and that those who ignore it “wear a blindfold.” Nevertheless, the story’s elemental disciplines offer truly open-ended innovations, because, as Samech says, “your ability to use them is controlled by what you can think of and what you think can be done.” The central mystery will draw readers into an enchanting final tableau, leaving expectations galloping for the third volume.

The glimmering continuation of a detailed, emotionally rich saga.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 311

Publisher: Tiner Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

ALL ADULTS HERE

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.

Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a 68-year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses." Elliot, her oldest, who's in real estate, lives in Clapham with his wife, Wendy, who's Chinese American, and their twins toddlers, Aidan and Zachary, who are "such hellions that only a fool would willingly ask for more." Astrid's daughter, Porter, owns a nearby farm producing artisanal goat cheese and has just gotten pregnant through a sperm bank while having an affair with her married high school boyfriend. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub (Modern Lovers, 2016, etc.) draws her characters warmly, making them appealing in their self-centeredness and generosity, their insecurity and hope. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters. Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu.

With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59463-469-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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