A global fraud tale remains laudable in its frankness; it’s not what the baddies are hiding, but the frightening lengths...



London investigators look into possible corporate fraud involving a shipping company that may retain secrets by resorting to murder in this debut thriller.

While hijacking one of Han Chan Lines’ ships, Somali pirates kill Chief Engineer Stephen Desmond, a rather calculated act akin to an execution. This is suspect because Desmond was a proposed whistle-blower who’d compiled evidence for journalist Sarah Grelsham: in a case of potential fraud, HCL’s allegedly been slowing vessels intentionally to allow pirates to board. Sarah hasn’t received said evidence yet, but her ensuing disappearance could mean that someone’s covering his or her tracks. Lloyd’s and managing agent Verre Slater enlist corporate adviser Laughton MacAllister—specifically, Michael Leithead’s team. Members include former Fraud Squad detective Manon Wyn Roberts and Drew Rydstrom, once in the Royal Australian Navy but later pulled from a Nigerian jail by Michael. The team searches for Desmond’s reputed evidence, as well as another, unknown individual in whom the engineer confided, while a couple of relevant bodies turn up. The killer(s) could be anyone from HCL, with probable links to drugs and Mafia-esque Chinese Triads, or Gyrescom, a maritime satellite communications company HCL uses. The investigators, however, may likewise be in danger when one of them, trying to reach a contact for information, becomes a target himself. Considering its global plot, Adamson’s story is surprisingly simple. Readers, for example, know who the villains are and whom they’ve tortured and killed well before Drew and others discover anyone’s dead. Fortunately, this gives rise to pure suspense, with Drew and Manon often unaware they’re in the presence of a murderer. Characters, in contrast, are gloriously complex, especially the somewhat murky good guys. Investigator Diego da Souza’s a hacker who enjoys snapping upskirt photos, while team newbie Manon’s facing trouble for old boss and lover Greg Hart’s illicit deeds—and an affair with a pregnant celebrity’s husband has turned Manon into the nation’s antagonist. Still, it’s clearly a team of heroes, as the band ultimately pursues the mysterious Puppet Master truly in control. Violence is generally unflinching but doesn’t quite prepare readers for a startling, unforgettable ending.

A global fraud tale remains laudable in its frankness; it’s not what the baddies are hiding, but the frightening lengths they’ll go to stay in power.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Constance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2016

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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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