A taut, nail-biting courtroom drama.

A GOOD MOTHER

In journalist and law professor Bazelon’s tense fiction debut, a young woman goes on trial for the stabbing murder of her soldier husband.

Hard-charging Los Angeles federal public defense attorney Abby Rosenberg is due to give birth any time now, but her new case already has her hooked. Nineteen-year-old Luz Rivera Hollis was taken into custody at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany and sent back to LA after supposedly stabbing her husband, Sgt. Travis Hollis, to death. Luz has been charged with first-degree murder, but Abby isn’t quite sure that her client grasps the gravity of the situation; all she cares about is getting to be with her 2-month-old daughter, Cristina. Abby manages to get the judge to set bail and release Luz to her grandmother, and then she's off on maternity leave. Abby’s new baby son is a delight, but she chafes at the monotony of sleepless nights and feedings, and she angers her partner, Nic Mulvaney, by announcing that she wants to go back to work early. She’s not about to hand over control of Luz’s case to Will Ellet, a wet-behind-the-ears former JAG attorney with 19th-century views on womanhood, but she does have to partner with him, and he makes it crystal clear what he thinks of her decision to come back early. As Abby and Will prepare the enigmatic Luz for trial, their personal lives begin to fall apart. Bazelon knows her way around a courtroom and unfolds one surprise after another while deftly exploring motherhood and the often crushing expectations that come with raising a family, not to mention the condescending treatment of women in a largely male workplace. Abby sees herself in Luz, who is willing to do anything to protect her little girl, but was her action self-defense or coldblooded murder?

A taut, nail-biting courtroom drama.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-91609-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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THE SANATORIUM

A hotel built on the grounds of a sanatorium has more dead bodies than paying guests.

A police detective on sabbatical after flubbing a case, Elin Warner travels with her boyfriend, Will, to Le Sommet, a remote, glass-walled, five-star hotel in the Swiss Alps, at the invitation of her estranged brother, Isaac. Isaac is throwing a party to celebrate his engagement to Laure, assistant manager at the hotel, which has been the focus of local controversy due to its shadowy history. Elin's creepy feelings about the trip are quickly confirmed as a storm cuts off access to the mountain, a receptionist is kidnapped, a dead body is found in the snow, and Laure disappears. As overloaded, grisly, and ultimately silly as Pearse's locked-room debut may be, the biggest mystery is how Elin ever made it out of the police academy. As she slowly reasons her way through the unfolding situation, her deductions of even the most obvious points appear in italics—"That means Laure has another phone." "This…it isn't an accident. She's been killed. This is murder"—as do what seem to be the protagonist’s questions to herself about how to move things along. "So where could they have gone?" "So what are my next steps going to be?" "She examines the glass balustrade in front of her. Can I get over it?" What Elin can't get over is a tragedy in her childhood for which she holds her brother responsible; it comes up every few pages until being resolved with a not-too-believable twist that may or may not be retwisted in a mystifying epilogue. Fortunately for Elin, she does have a few insider tricks up her sleeve. "She knows that there is an app called Find My iPhone...it would show the last location where it had a signal." Wait. Why are you laughing? This is a thriller!

Oh, dear.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-59-329667-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Energetic action, a tricky plot, and political analysis are not always comfortable together.

UNDERMONEY

To finance a better future, some comrades in arms steal a lot of money.

Under the aegis of Army Gen. Tommy Taylor, a group of soldiers steals more than $2 billion, intended for bribes in Syria, to help advance the career of Nebraska's junior senator, Ben Corn. Naturally, there are some not-very-ordinary people involved: CIA agent Greta Webb is beautiful, worldly, brilliant, sexually omnivorous, practiced in the art of deception, and lethal in several disciplines, while Don Carter, in charge of security, has raised paranoia to an art form. Also present at the heist, though not a member of the group, is Fyodor Volk, head of the Parsifal Group—a Blackwater-like paramilitary organization—and one of Vladimir Putin's favorite minions. Parsifal had contracted to provide backup security for the operation, and Volk quickly figures out what is being stolen and initiates a close relationship with Webb and the money. It turns out that having $2 billion is not the same as spending $2 billion, and a lot of exposition is provided on the various ways of moving large sums into mainstream economies. Finally, the group settles on using a hedge fund, and thus Industrial Strategies and Elias Vicker, Wall Street's most psychopathic billionaire, enter the plot. Vicker spins out of control, Volk crashes the party, it turns out that in the world of really big money everyone knows everyone else, and the convolutions of allegiance and plot are dark and tangled. The narrative is further burdened with analyses of American policy failures in several areas: military action, foreign relations, social initiative, and more. These ostensibly demonstrate what a fresh and clear vision Corn possesses (and most of the others share with him), but sometimes they feel a little extracurricular. Perhaps to compensate the reader for time spent in the desert, the action sequences are especially violent and bloody and the sex scenes, extravagant. Much of the digressive material could have been edited, at the cost of toning down the aggressive didacticism, but if you start with $2 billion, what is excess?

Energetic action, a tricky plot, and political analysis are not always comfortable together.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982156-02-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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