A gritty, action-stuffed, well-considered thriller with a gun-toting clergyman.


The River


From the Pastor Stephen Grant series

an>In Keating’s (An Advent for Religious Liberty, 2012, etc.) thriller, a formidable pastor’s trip to Las Vegas takes a nasty turn when masked men kidnap his wife.

Long Island Pastor Stephen Grant and his wife, Jennifer, are Vegas-bound to attend a conference at Jennifer’s alma mater, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They reluctantly agree to stay at a casino hotel owned by Dixon Shaw, Jennifer’s estranged father who had cheated on her mother. Vegas immediately seems shady; two incognito men lurk near the couple. One, Gil Rice, blames Shaw for the presumed murder of missing son Ollie; the other, Eric Clark, was busted by Grant in a smuggling operation when both were CIA agents. A vengeance-minded individual may be the one who spearheaded the eventual abduction and ransom of Jennifer. Grant, however, who in addition to being ex-CIA is also a former SEAL, won’t sit idle while someone holds his wife hostage. The protagonist is the quintessential antihero: he’s a good man respected by his peers at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church but is infuriated by the evil of others. Grant may or may not kill before the story’s finished, but he’s unquestionably wrought with guilt over his murderous impulses. Action scenes flood the novel, particularly once Grant gets help from old CIA cohort Paige Caldwell, who comes complete with skills, weapons, and other men. The story stretches plausibility on occasion, like when FBI agents, who’ve tracked down the kidnappers’ possible location, bring the abductee’s husband along for the ride and give him a gun. Grant, meanwhile, may be flawed as a man of God, but Keating ensures that readers know the protagonist isn’t the norm. A decidedly more wholesome pastor, for example, is back in Long Island, advising a woman who may be losing her faith after her husband’s accidental death.

A gritty, action-stuffed, well-considered thriller with a gun-toting clergyman.

Pub Date: May 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4995-1417-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

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


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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