Shrouded in mystery and conspiracy, with a big reveal that’s well worth the wait.


Edwin's Reflection

A CEO and psychiatrist are just two of the people searching for pieces of a machine whose existence could rewrite the laws of nature in this debut sci-fi thriller.

The apparent suicide of recluse Everett Lemily in New Hope, Pennsylvania, eventually catches the attention of FBI agent Randall Evans. Everett’s connected to a legacy case that was worked on by Randall’s fed grandfather, Walter, now dead. A strange, unsigned letter sends Randall to a cemetery, where he recovers a brown box that contains, among other things, a harmonic coil. It connects to a machine, one that Everett owned, which was auctioned off in parts after his death. This leads Randall to a New Hope antiques shop, but New York patent company CEO Tom Hartger is there first, having found his way there courtesy of a letter much like Randall’s. Tom, reunited with a former romantic interest, psychiatrist Gwen Pierce, buys an Edison Medal once awarded to Nikola Tesla. Randall also wants said medal, as does East Indian businessman Esha Durga. Various clues direct the hunters to other components, most notably three additional coils. The curious machine is allegedly capable of “peering behind the curtain in time,” but it’s some previously unknown links to the past that may have brought these individuals together. One thing’s for sure: a body confirms someone’s willing to resort to murder to get what he or she wants. Deeg retains ambiguity throughout, so the machine’s exact purpose isn’t clear until the end. But while there are enough hints that readers can figure out the mechanics, the real surprise is why anyone would want the machine operational. Historical name-dropping gives the novel a credible foundation; in addition to Tesla’s notebook, there’s a journal from inventor/scientist Alfred Lee Loomis. Primarily speculative discussions of an enigmatic machine ultimately prompt conversations about abstract notions, like Gwen pointing out that hide-and-seek is analogous to life in general. But these are relatively short and, in the case of Gwen’s spouts of psychiatric analyses, wonderfully odd ways to keep Tom calm. A sense of dread, meanwhile, is consistently present, with the feds looking at Tom and Gwen as potential suspects in the aforementioned murder.

Shrouded in mystery and conspiracy, with a big reveal that’s well worth the wait.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5238-1955-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2016

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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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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


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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