A sometimes over-the-top thriller whose frenetic cadence will keep readers’ heads spinning.

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Losing Cadence

A debut psychological thriller that offers wealth, romance, obsession, and terror in abundance.

In Lovett’s novel, loner businessman Richard White is Warren Buffett-rich, heartthrob-handsome, and crazy as a bag of cats. He’s obsessed with Cadence Weaverly, whom he dated 10 years before when he was a student at Harvard University and she was a high school senior, recently accepted to Juilliard to study the flute. But immediately after she took him to the prom, she kicked him to the curb; although he had looks, brains, and even “impeccable posture,” he talked like a robot and had no friends. Fast-forward a decade and Richard, now a billionaire with a California mansion and “luxury properties in Aspen, as well as the Bahamas, Spain, France, Greece and New Zealand,” drugs and kidnaps his former love, now a professional flautist. He then flies her in his jet to his private island where he aims to marry her. She protests the idea of a wedding but acquiesces when he threatens to hurt or even kill her fiance, Christian Davidson, a New York Philharmonic cellist who has “gentle, twinkling brown eyes.” Richard doesn’t make idle threats and he’s not above committing murder; for example, a servant who tries to help Cadence escape is “dispensed with a quick and painless single bullet to the head.” Cadence seems doomed to spend her life in secluded luxury with Richard, who wants her on a fast track to pregnancy. Overall, Lovett does a good, fast-paced job of quilting together scenes from Cadence’s high school days, her more recent romance with Christian, and her present abduction and imprisonment by the deranged Richard. Sometimes Richard is a genuinely terrifying character, but at other times, he’s too much like a cartoonish, Snidely Whiplash-style villain (“You had your ten years, and now your life is mine,” he tells Cadence firmly. “And nobody else will share it, nobody except our children”). It’s also unclear why he is so attracted to Cadence, or why, in the past 10 years, this attractive jet-setter couldn’t have acquired a good therapist—or a romantic match who would enjoy his positive attributes.

A sometimes over-the-top thriller whose frenetic cadence will keep readers’ heads spinning.

Pub Date: March 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-8852-3

Page Count: 252

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2016

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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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