PERSONAL INJURIES

The undisputed dean of legal intrigue (The Laws of Our Fathers, 1996, etc.) burrows deep into the muck surrounding the attempt to turn a dirty lawyer into an informant against the judges he’s been bribing. Now that the feds have discovered the secret bank account he’s been using to pay off some of the Kindle County judges who’ve been ruling on his cases, Robbie Feaver is ready to roll over on Their Honors. He’ll wear a wire to his meetings with their bagmen, hoping to get enough evidence to persuade at least four judges—party hack Barnett Skolnick, alcoholic Gillian Sullivan, scholarly Silvio Malatesta, and aggressive black ex-athlete Sherm Crowthers—to testify against the big fish the Feebs are really after: Brendan Tuohey, Presiding Judge of the county superior court’s common law claims division and uncle of Robbie’s benighted partner, Mort Dinnerstein. And while he’s waiting for the chance to get the goods on his former co-conspirators, Robbie will accept the constant companionship of FBI agent Evon Miller, disguised as one of the paralegals he can’t stop chasing even as his beloved wife Rainey is descending into the excruciating final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease. It all sounds simple, and in the hands of a lesser storyteller the pivots of suspense would be utterly predictable: Will Robbie get found out? Will the bugging equipment actually work? Will the little fish he lands agree to turn on the big fish? All these problems come up here, all right, but, as usual, Turow is less interested in creating dangers for his hero than in exploring the ethical dilemmas of ambiguous legal situations—in particular, the morality of undercover work, whether the undercover ops are FBI agents or bogus lawyers the government can’t make parties to defrauding innocent clients, and whether it involves lying about your political debts, your sexual preferences, or your personal loyalties. The result is a revelation—a subtle, densely textured legal thriller stuffed with every kind of surprise except the ones you expect. Turow is well on his way to making Kindle County the Yoknapatawpha of American law.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-28194-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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