Somehow, Greaney cranks out one winner after another. That’s a lot of work for the Gray Man and plenty of pleasure for...

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AGENT IN PLACE

Seventh in the high-powered Gray Man series (Gunmetal Gray, 2017, etc.).

The Islamic State group is about to execute Courtland Gentry—the Gray Man—and leave his body floating with others in a bloody lake. Then the story backs up a week to show how he got into this unholy mess. Gentry is ex-CIA, now an assassin for hire. He meets in Paris with Dr. Tarek Halaby, head of the Free Syria Exile Union, or what’s left of it. All the brave members are dead, Halaby says, and he jokes that perhaps Gentry would like to kill the Syrian president for him. “A mission into Syria,” they both agree, is “a fool’s errand.” Which naturally means he'll go there. Halaby hires him to rescue the model Bianca Medina from an imminent IS attack, part of a plan that Halaby hopes will "deal a serious blow to the Syrian regime and hasten the end" of the cruel civil war. A stunning beauty who’s protected by bodyguards in a Paris hotel, Medina is the lover of Ahmed al-Azzam, the brutal Syrian president and “most horrible man in the world"—and also, as she tells Halaby after Gentry brings her back to his safe house, she's secretly the mother of Jamal, Azzam's only son. Azzam’s wife, Shakira, aka “the First Lady of Hell,” knows about Bianca and wants her dead. (Thus the IS attack, which she manipulated.) Halaby isn't sure if Shakira knows about Jamal (she does), but he's sure she'll kill the boy if she does. Bianca is itching to return to Syria to be with Jamal, who's been left behind with a bodyguard, but Gentry, against his own better judgment, agrees to go get him. If there’s “one shot in hell” to snatch the child from the evil dad, “that shot was the Gray Man," a sharpshooter who will gladly kill Azzam if only he can get close enough. So, as anyone who follows the series knows, plenty of blood spills. Whether any of that blood is Assad's—oops, Azzam's—is for the reader to find out. Court Gentry claims to kill only for cash, yet he mostly nails just the bad guys—deep down, he has a moral code. Readers of the great Tom Clancy will salivate over this fast-moving and well-plotted yarn, which is part of a consistently appealing series in which each assignment is billed as the most dangerous ever.

Somehow, Greaney cranks out one winner after another. That’s a lot of work for the Gray Man and plenty of pleasure for thriller fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-48890-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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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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