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A bracing revenge tale with a strong cast.

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A novel revolves around a genius computer geek who desires vengeance for the death of his best friend—a man essentially killed by relentless, greedy lawyers battling to possess his revolutionary work in data mining and analysis.

Gregory Portnoy and Joseph Leege, who have been best friends since childhood, attend MIT in the late 1980s. There, they work together on a highly profitable video game, one of the first split-screen games ever to be played over a modem. With a small group of computer mastermind friends, they start doing work for businesses focusing on internet security and efficiency as well as trading stocks on the internet. But as the best friends rise to the strata of up-and-coming internet innovators, the two have a fundamental difference of opinion. The idealistic and highly sensitive Leege thinks software should be free for all of the world to use, while Portnoy believes owning and selling it to approved companies is the path to take. The two eventually go their separate ways—Portnoy struggling to come to grips with losing the love of his life, a young woman named Chana. When Portnoy discovers that Leege is dead—largely because of incessant legal bullying from a group of attorneys—he sets out to avenge his friend. But Portnoy is not alone: He has someone—or something—helping him who is close to omnipotent. Trial lawyer Buschel’s second novel (after 2016’s By Silent Majority) is a page-turning blend of SF, legal thriller, and financial crime drama. (Think John Grisham meets Isaac Asimov and Bernie Madoff in a bar for drinks.) There’s a lot to love here—the seamless fusion of SF and science facts is compelling, as are the well-developed characters, all of whom possess their own insecurities and flaws. Portnoy’s tumultuous relationship with Chana is an impressively rich subplot. The one minor criticism concerns the bulk of legalese (bankruptcy law, etc.)—while relatively interesting, some of it isn’t critical to the storyline and slows down the momentum.

A bracing revenge tale with a strong cast.

Pub Date: March 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68433-892-4

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2022

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A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Sports agent Myron Bolitar meets the Setup Serial Killer, who’s found a highly effective way to keep anyone from connecting the dots.

There’s no arguing with DNA evidence, the ultimate forensic clincher. So when basketball player Greg Downing’s DNA is found on the scene where retired model Cecelia Callister and her son, Clay, were killed, the FBI comes calling on Myron to ask where they can find Greg. Myron’s a reasonable person to ask because Greg was his schoolmate and former client, the man who wooed and won Myron’s girlfriend away from him and made her Emily Downing. Try as he might, though, Myron can’t help much beyond repeating the obvious: Greg died three years ago, and his body was cremated. Since the Feds aren’t about to give up their search, Myron and his partner, financial advisor Win Lockwood, decide they’d better see if they can get ahead of this story by confirming or contradicting the story of Greg’s death. Meantime, a series of interleaved episodes show the killer eliminating a series of primary targets and framing secondary targets so convincingly for the murders, with special thanks to planted DNA, that it never occurs to the police to connect crimes that were so readily solved on their own. Complications arise when Myron’s thrown together with Jeremy Downing, the son he fathered in a pre-wedding tryst with Emily and then passed off as Greg’s, and when the allies of mob boss Joseph “Joey the Toe” Turant, who was locked up four years ago after his DNA-fueled conviction for the murder of Jordan Kravat, decide to lean on Myron to get him to reveal where Greg is.

A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781538756317

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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“Don’t go in the water” takes on new meaning in Turton’s brainy thriller.

It’s doomsday eve on a small Greek island where the last post-apocalyptic community on earth will be destroyed unless a murdered scientist’s secret research can be uncovered.

The rest of the world ended 90 years ago, just as humankind was close to overcoming climate change. Now, a lethal black fog is approaching the island, where 122 villagers live peacefully, albeit with an unreliable female AI voice inside their heads. All but the rebellious woman Emory are content not to question geographical boundaries they are not allowed to cross or mysterious programming that can wipe their memories, make them fall asleep at 8:45 p.m. every night, and die at 60—a bum deal considering the extraordinarily long lives of the three elders, including Niema, the murder victim. A brilliant scientist who in another lifetime was awarded two Nobel Prizes and later devised the barrier blocking the fog, she was 173. Hours after announcing she would reveal hidden truths about the island and the extreme experiments she was conducting to safeguard its future, she was stabbed to death. Solving her murder is key to saving the island. Turton, who specializes in odd, raging conflicts in closed settings—a London manor in The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (2018); a cursed 17th-century ship in The Devil and the Dark Water (2020)—here takes on a bunch of big themes including the nature of existence and the value of life. H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, without the monsters, comes to mind. Long and talky and light on characterizations, Turton’s latest is a bit mechanical in the telling, perhaps owing to the AI’s role as narrator. But it’s a fresh twist on dystopian fiction with its share of surprises.

“Don’t go in the water” takes on new meaning in Turton’s brainy thriller.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781728254654

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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