While Kennedy does a fair job of evoking life among young people in poor rural New England, she robs readers of any regret...

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END OVER END

A standard courtroom drama gussied up with enough evocative character sketches and atmospheric byways to provide the sheen of the literary without much of the satisfaction.

First up in the long list of characters is Ivory Towles, 14, who's in love with 15-year-old Blake the only way teenagers can be: absolutely, all the time. Of course, he has cheated on her, and is ambivalent about her protests of love, but on the whole their romance doesn't seem the stuff of grownup fiction. No matter: After endless chatter about drinking and coin-toss infatuations—heads, she loves him; tails, she hates his guts—Ivory goes missing, and her body turns up in the woods. The only thing to sort out now is whodunit, and newcomer Kennedy, hugely clumsy in the art of the red herring, lavishes fallow prose on every fruitless lead, marking the impact of the death on Ivory's grieving mother Florence, her husband Duncan, their son Dunc Jr., and the teenaged community, which pours forth poems for the yearbook and dedicates dances to her memory. Hardly a nook in this world is left dark. Kennedy spends hours with detectives at home, girls before mirrors, teachers on lonely walks, and rough-house boys partying through the night—until three years later, during the trial of suspects Blake and Tommy, when even the jury deliberations over the evidence are allotted their own chapters. As might be expected, none of the aggrieved is any more satisfied by the verdict than long-suffering readers will be when they're invited to gnaw these blanched lives still further.

While Kennedy does a fair job of evoking life among young people in poor rural New England, she robs readers of any regret they might feel at never seeing them fulfill their promise. The whole production is marked by a stunning lack of loss.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56947-235-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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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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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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