A fresh addition to an enjoyable series.


The Cult of Leo

From the The Zodiac Mysteries series , Vol. 4

Continuation of Freemartin’s (The Currents of Scorpio: The Zodiac Mysteries Book 3, 2014) Zodiac Mystery series featuring the Cuspians, women reviled for having been born on the cusp of two zodiac signs.

After fleeing the pampered, glamorous world of her two adoptive fathers, former perfume designer Nina Solaris is trying to build a new, meaningful life for herself in Fiamma on an Earth-like planet called Astrogea. Zeven, one of her fathers, had discovered Nina and her unusual gift for detecting and identifying odors, then put her to work creating scents; but after seeing the accomplishments of her Cuspian friends, Nina believes hers are empty. Alienated and isolated due to her Cuspian status—in her case, having been born on the cusp between Leo and Virgo (as good a reason as any to discriminate in dystopian 2045 Astrogea)—Nina is attempting to initiate chemical warfare by developing and distributing pheromone tabs which will alter the behaviors—and, seemingly, the astrological signs—of those who consume them: “Nina smiled and wondered how the brash and haughty Aries would feel when strangers started thinking of her as a water sign, when her friends and family looked at her in confusion, ill at ease.” On the brink of the new year, however, additional threats are developing against Fiamma as charismatic Winn Noble’s Cult of Leo infiltrates the fabric of the city. Nina enlists the help of her five Cuspian friends—Vivian, Margo, Jade, Iris, and Brooke—each with her own talents and shortcomings. Even (especially) among her dearest friends, Nina’s old feelings of inadequacy rise to the surface, making her vulnerable to Winn’s charisma. At the same time, she realizes she can’t trust her new ally, Cedric, nor her old and new lovers (Lionel Savage and Luc Windham, respectively). Adding to the expanding conflict is the unpredictable behavior of Cuspians as well as Paragons—astrological purists, who have political sway—resulting from intentional or unintentional consumption of the pheromone tabs Nina herself created. Rather than making a positive contribution to her society’s plight, Nina suspects she is contributing to its downfall. A dizzying number of characters and subplots makes this otherwise straightforward dystopian novel confusing, although probably less so for devotees of the entire series. While Nina and her friends attempt to foil Winn’s ambitions, they leave an intriguing number of unresolved issues to guarantee the perpetuation of the series.

A fresh addition to an enjoyable series.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

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


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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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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