Consistently blends dual medical and political storylines, each with its own worthy protagonist.



A physician and the White House chief of staff both suspect something sinister behind the vice president’s sudden, unexplained death in this debut thriller.

Dr. Dan Russell unfortunately can’t save Vice President Rosalyn Delstrotto’s life after she has an apparent seizure. But he’s disturbed by the woman’s pupils, which strangely remain constricted even post-death. Vice presidential adviser Ken Trainer, however, tells the doctor to forget anything’s happened, and the Secret Service takes Delstrotto’s body away. President Raymond Winslet, sans a running mate for the upcoming election, chooses Sen. Jonathan Savage, whom more than one person has recommended. The bid’s a success, but White House Chief of Staff Chad Madden doesn’t trust the new vice president, whose team of aides is largely unknown and who shuts out his own chief of staff and Madden’s friend, Jason Clark. Madden asks his ex-girlfriend Jennifer Smitt at the FBI to check out Savage’s pals and suspects a rat in the president’s administration when Winslet’s top-secret project isn’t so secret anymore. Russell, meanwhile, believes a virus may have caused Delstrotto’s demise, likely confirmed when others die in symptomatically similar ways. A potential epidemic and a mole could indicate someone’s diabolical agenda—and a threat to the nation. Though Tenery (Chasing the Ponytail, 2016, etc.) doesn’t immediately reveal every villain, there are plenty of menacing characters, like Trainer, who all but threatens Russell at the hospital. Madden and Russell are dependable protagonists, as well as grounded; they aren’t action heroes and react realistically (and understandably) when caught in precarious predicaments. The near-future setting is timely politically, taking place soon after Donald Trump’s presidency (just one term), but runs short on tech, hinting that but not specifying how “communication technology” has “leapfrogged.” Tenery fills his pages with plot turns, including unexpectedly corrupt characters, at least one truly shocking death, and a dread-inducing, anonymous individual seemingly spearheading a nefarious plan. A memorable ending implies a possible sequel.

Consistently blends dual medical and political storylines, each with its own worthy protagonist.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61254-946-0

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2017

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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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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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