An exemplar of storytelling and character-driven adventure.

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THE TEN

BOOK ONE OF THE KINGDOM OF GRAVES

Graphic novelist turned fantasy author Myrick (Feynman, 2011, etc.) releases the first installment of a promising trilogy that trails an elite warrior as he adventures through foreign lands, weaves magic and vanquishes his enemies.

Capt. Jorophe Horne survives a three-year war only to witness his country’s annexation to the mighty Kingdom of Graves. Worse still, he is reassigned to the enemy army that destroyed his homeland. Understandably reluctant to serve his new master, Jorophe reports for duty at the behest of his now-dethroned monarch. But when evil forces conspire against the kingdom, Jorophe’s oath drives him to action: He rises to become the most powerful weapon in the King’s elite 10-man force. Armed with two ancient dark blades, he hunts down devils from the Abyss who threaten the provinces. Myrick’s epic tale features assassins, dark priests, blue demons and an Amazon warrior as it chronicles the lives of more than six core characters. All are uniquely crafted, with intentions to either destroy or save the kingdom. Brief chapters juxtapose longer prose, fueling a high-paced storyline that flies from one end of the world to the other. As the author shifts from one point of view to the next, readers slide through a rich mosaic of betrayal, greed, loyalty and honor. Of its manifold strengths, the novel is fluid and full of surprises. Readers will question the characters’ loyalties to the king as they ponder the mysterious identity of the final member of the Ten. As the book draws to a close, the final lines are likely to send shivers up readers’ spines. The author masterfully crafts vivid battle scenes and heart-pounding chases across oceans, over snow-peaked mountains and into city sewers. Neither die-hard nor casual fantasy readers will be able to resist this trilogy’s rousing start.

An exemplar of storytelling and character-driven adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Adept Books

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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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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With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

ALL ADULTS HERE

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.

Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a 68-year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses." Elliot, her oldest, who's in real estate, lives in Clapham with his wife, Wendy, who's Chinese American, and their twins toddlers, Aidan and Zachary, who are "such hellions that only a fool would willingly ask for more." Astrid's daughter, Porter, owns a nearby farm producing artisanal goat cheese and has just gotten pregnant through a sperm bank while having an affair with her married high school boyfriend. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub (Modern Lovers, 2016, etc.) draws her characters warmly, making them appealing in their self-centeredness and generosity, their insecurity and hope. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters. Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu.

With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59463-469-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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