A cogent novel that points a glaring light at an unfair justice system.



A convict agrees to an experiment that instantly ages him—corresponding to his sentence—but returning to the life he knew proves a punishing task in this debut sci-fi-infused thriller.

Twentysomething carjacker Danny Fierro didn’t actually commit the murder that sent him to jail. But because the victim was a cop, the judge deems Danny as guilty as his partner in crime, killed in return fire. Devastated that his pregnant girlfriend, Sonya de Leon, writes him off after giving birth, Danny takes little solace in his public defender getting him a chance at parole, as it’s not for three decades. This, however, makes him a candidate for Premium Sentencing, a procedure that takes the same number of years away from prisoners that they have left to serve. Danny, then, is suddenly age 55, earning freedom, along with fellow “processees.” Unfortunately, Sonya doesn’t seem interested in starting a family with a much older Danny, who has trouble adjusting, enduring stomach pains and getting caught up with vicious pushers of a vitality-restoring drug. It’s worse for other processees, most of whom develop mental disorders or commit suicide. Conlan Laboratories, where it all began, is up to something dubious, which may entail further experiments with Danny—his willingness to participate merely incidental. Despite a plot steered by fantastical science, Takemoto wisely keeps it shrouded in mystery, not revealing Premium Sentencing’s origins until the end. The story adopts a searing examination of rehabilitation: the public, referring to Premium Sentencing by the blunter term Bio-Justice, treats processees as deserving of their psychological fallout, while some criminals retain their violent ways, even though they’re now quite a bit older. Most convicts, and especially Danny, garner sympathy as the tale progresses, aided by poignant descriptions: someone notes that the processees are “hollowed out, soulless—as if they were already dead.” The grounded narrative eases readers into the sci-fi-laden final act, which is rife with shocks and rigorously ties up subplots, including one obscure character’s suicide early in the tale.

A cogent novel that points a glaring light at an unfair justice system.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 257

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 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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