This dark debut isn’t for everyone, but it’s great for what it is: tight, well-crafted, and nasty. It nails the noir.

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THE 8TH CIRCLE

This dark thriller is a fast-paced plunge into a hell that reeks of sex and blood.

Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist Danny Ryan gets right to the point: “We’re all dying, so we might as well get on with it.” He finds his friend and colleague Michael Cohen gut-shot and dying in a BMW on his property, and the victim’s dying word is “Inferno.” Danny’s wife, Beth, and son, Conor, had died in an accident almost a year earlier, so the coincidence of so many deaths is not lost on detectives John Novell and Sean McFarland. They suspect Danny may be good for the crime. But clearly someone has it in for Danny, who gets mysterious phone calls demanding he turn over a package he doesn’t think he has. And then he finds his poor dog, Beowulf, bludgeoned, dead in a pool of blood. In his car, Danny finds a woman’s human heart wrapped in a G-string and later finds the rest of her body in his bed. Inferno, he learns, is an organization that runs sex clubs with a clientele that includes important people having kinky sex. A congressman is burned to death, 22 girls have already been strangled by the Sandman, who is also suspected in the Ticonderoga-pencil killing of Danny’s brother, Junior (a No. 2 to the temple). Lots of people meet untimely ends at the hands of delightfully disgusting villains such as Mason, who sees in Danny “beauty wrought by the exquisite hand of suffering.” Repetition of William Blake’s line “Some are born to endless night” weaves an apt theme throughout. The novel’s title, of course, is from Dante’s Inferno, where some of the victims are bound for “the eighth circle with the other hypocrites and frauds.”

This dark debut isn’t for everyone, but it’s great for what it is: tight, well-crafted, and nasty. It nails the noir.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62953-480-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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THE LAST TRIAL

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.

THE SILENT PATIENT

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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