Hall’s cautionary tale of a femme fatale boasts crackerjack storytelling, vibrant characters, and some terrific twists.

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SO MANY DOORS

A willful and provocative beauty drives every man within her orbit to distraction, and one to murder, in a novel that was first published to great acclaim in 1950.

Each of the tale’s five sections focuses on a different character, all of them with hard-luck stories. The first begins as a broken Jack Ward sits in jail. Having confessed to the murder of an unnamed woman, he tells his court-appointed lawyer that all he wants is the gas chamber. Next Hall (Warlock, 1958, etc.) flashes back to Depression-era southern California, where Baird, a distressed rancher, is trying to keep his gorgeous and unruly teenage daughter, Vassilia, from running wild. Denton, a wealthy neighboring rancher, garners her affection by buying V a beautiful horse. When he offers to pay for V’s college education, claiming that he loves her like a daughter, Baird is unwilling to deny his generosity. The next section focuses on Ben Proctor, a small-time politico and roommate of Jack Ward, who’s dating V. Despite himself, Ben finds himself undeniably drawn to V, something Jack seems frustratingly oblivious to, often inviting him to join them. Whether her flirtatiousness is a form of friendly attention or something more, this arrangement can’t end well. Then the story jumps to Marian Huber, who adds another angle through her husband Arch’s friendship with Jack Ward, who’s newly married to naïve Gene Geary. Marian doesn’t think that supersweet Gene is a good match for erratic Jack, but when she spots him with a voluptuous temptress, she feels duty-bound to inform the innocent newlywed.

Hall’s cautionary tale of a femme fatale boasts crackerjack storytelling, vibrant characters, and some terrific twists.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78565-688-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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