As usual, Clark plots as generously as her Scandinavian counterparts, though neither the stalwart regular cast nor the...

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SNAP JUDGMENT

A third case that adds still more evidence for Los Angeles attorney Samantha Brinkman’s default attitude toward her criminal-defense practice: “I pretty much assume all my clients are guilty.”

Pushed beyond endurance by her manically possessive boyfriend, Roan Sutton, USC freshman Alicia Hutchins voicemails him a Dear John message, but it’s too late: soon after she realizes he’s converted her nude selfies to revenge porn, she’s found in her bathtub with her throat slashed. Would Brinkman & Associates defend Sutton on a possible murder charge? “Not if we were starving and living in Tent City,” Samantha tells Alex Medrano, her investigator. In fact, she’s already lost her chance, for shortly after the LAPD identifies the spurned lover as a person of interest, he too is found dead, an apparent suicide—unless it’s murder, as his mother, Audrey Sutton, says early and often to any media flack who’ll listen. Alicia’s father, noted attorney Graham Hutchins, wants Samantha to defend him against possible homicide charges, but he’d be better off if she could just prevent him from responding to Audrey’s charges in self-destructive ways that stoke the fires of public opinion. Nor is he Samantha’s only problem client. Uber-ganglord Javier Cabazon, to whom she owes a serious favor (Moral Defense, 2016), politely demands that she locate Tracy Gopeck, the primary witness against Cabazon’s nephew for killing a rival gangbanger, so that Cabazon’s goons can liquidate her. It won’t be easy to find someone who’s been taken into protective custody, and even if it were, Samantha can’t condone turning her over to Cabazon’s tender mercies. But it’s as hard to say no to the fearsome Cabazon as it is to stem the tide of public opinion.

As usual, Clark plots as generously as her Scandinavian counterparts, though neither the stalwart regular cast nor the interchangeable suspects are interesting enough to keep up the tension for almost 500 pages.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4599-5

Page Count: 459

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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