Guaranteed to appeal to nostalgia buffs who can’t forget their activist days and fans of courtroom drama who demand surprise...



Defending an aging former radical who’s turned himself in for a 1975 bombing proves to be a blast from the past for LA attorney Parker Stern (Reckless Disregard, 2014, etc.) in more ways than one.

Parker can’t well refuse to take Ian Holzner’s case. Not because Parker’s horrible mother, Harriet, who’s called herself Quiana Gottschalk ever since she became an elder of the Church of the Sanctified Assembly, pops up out of nowhere to insist that he take it, but because he can’t deny her clinching argument: Holzner is the father he’s never known. Given his double responsibility as lawyer and son, Parker gives Holzner’s defense everything he’s got. He mends fences with his former girlfriend Lovely Diamond because she works at the law firm of dislikable Louis Frantz, whose status as a death-penalty defender Parker has to trade on in order to take the case. He labors in vain to unearth the trial transcript that sent Holzner’s co-conspirator, Rachel O’Brien, who blamed the bombing on him, to prison for six years. He holds his nose long enough to question two other Holzner-O’Brien gang members: psychopathic Belinda Hayes, who testified against Holzner at O’Brien’s trial, and lily-livered Charles Sedgwick, who’s still doing hard time even though everyone knows he’s incapable of making the bomb that was planted in the Playa Delta VA Hospital back in the day. He does his best to find some common ground with spluttering, self-righteous Holzner, who could pose convincingly as the client from hell. The result is a series of firecrackers and depth charges that go right on detonating after the defense rests.

Guaranteed to appeal to nostalgia buffs who can’t forget their activist days and fans of courtroom drama who demand surprise after surprise and don’t mind seeing multiple cast members unmasked as radicals or undercover cops or killed off to provide them.

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63388-044-3

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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