Peacock writes compellingly about issues of class, identity and justice while still managing to keep the plot barreling...



An up-and-coming New York lawyer must simultaneously defend a powerful developer and a young man accused of murdering a security guard in Peacock’s second novel (A Cure For Night, 2008).

As a product of a biracial, working-class family in Detroit, Duncan Riley often finds himself ill at ease with his role as a rising star at Blake and Wolcott, a white-shoe law firm in Manhattan. But partner Steven Blake has taken Riley under his wing and put him to work on the team defending Roth Properties—a commercial real-estate development firm and one of Blake and Wolcott’s biggest clients—who need representation after a fatal accident at one of their construction sites. As a further show of confidence, Riley has been given some of the firm’s image-burnishing pro bono work: He’s defending Rafael Nazario, who, along with his grandmother, faces eviction at a Lower East Side housing project currently being redeveloped as mixed-income housing by Roth Properties. Just when things are going well for the Nazarios, young Rafael is charged with murdering the very security guard who got him in trouble in the first place. Although Riley doesn’t have experience as a trial lawyer, he decides to defend Rafael against the murder charge, only to find himself under pressure from above to talk his client into taking a plea deal. Riley is torn between his career and his belief in Rafael’s innocence, a dilemma further complicated by the attention he’s getting from Roth Properties heiress apparent Leah Roth. Meanwhile, Candace Snow, an investigative reporter at the New York Journal, takes an interest in the Nazario case as she digs deeper into the Roth family’s shady doings. Peacock, a former lawyer whose first novel drew comparisons to Scott Turow, brings this legal thriller—and especially the characters therein—to vivid life, portraying multimillionaires and project residents with skill. The prose is perfectly tuned, drawing the reader in without ever getting in the way.

Peacock writes compellingly about issues of class, identity and justice while still managing to keep the plot barreling irresistibly along.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-53106-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.


Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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