A strange but entertainingly detailed amalgamation of the ancient and the modern.

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A QUEST FOR ANSWERS

A debut novel mixes Indian myths, contemporary times, and advanced physics.

When the reader first meets Hanuman, this figure from Hindu mythology asks his father, Gen. Kesari, to tell the story of a great battle he fought in. Through Kesari’s tale, the reader is introduced to the ancient Indian community of Vanara: forest dwellers with long body hair and immense strength. As young Hanuman, a member of the Vanara, listens to his father’s account, he dreams of one day becoming a great warrior. Meanwhile, in modern times, Krishnanujam, known to most as “Krish,” is a “world-renowned physicist and a doctoral candidate.” Krish is originally from India, though he pursues his doctorate at Cal Tech, where he is “figuring out the secrets of the universe.” Although Krish is a rising star in his field, his work has attracted the attention of some dangerous people. Krish’s publications have involved ideas about creating powerful weapons that could destroy the world and he finds himself a hunted man. Alternating between Hanuman’s life story and Krish’s attempts to pursue his work while staying alive, Joshi’s book creates parallel tales that the reader guesses will ultimately intertwine. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in what amounts to a free-wheeling adventure through both space and time with plenty of action and physics thrown in. While the plot against Krish remains vague (do his stalkers want to kidnap or kill him?), he manages to be a most unlikely hero, allowing others to appreciate the importance of high math while he is at the mercy of those assigned to protect him. Hanuman’s quest is more traditional (because he is a warrior and not a graduate student), but the reader wonders about the effect of an eventual crossover. It is this anticipation of a melding of two eras that gives the tale a sense of urgency. Although it seems likely that Krish will outmaneuver those who are after him, the bigger, much more endearing question is where his search for universal secrets will leave civilization as readers know it.   

A strange but entertainingly detailed amalgamation of the ancient and the modern.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2017

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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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