It’s hard to believe that maimed scientists and a black hole are among the tamer elements in a story that’s surprisingly...

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MURDER IN THE DARK

An alien living a quasi-human existence investigates a black hole in the English countryside.

Urgently summoned to step up in the face of enigmatic danger by The Colonel, his boss in the covert agency The Organization, Ishmael Jones isn’t sure what he and Penny Belcourt, his girlfriend and partner, are in for when they drive to Brassknocker Hill, just outside Bath. The townspeople tell tales of a shadowy Beast with nefarious if unspecified intentions. A small team of specialty scientists, led by professor Sharon Bellman, has already been called to learn more about the hole, but one of them has been lost to the hole’s almost magnetic forces. Was his disappearance nothing more than a misadventure, or was he pushed? This isn’t the first time Ishmael’s been up against something apparently supernatural (Into the Thinnest of Air, 2018, etc.). Most crimes and misdemeanors—more specifically, in Ishmael's investigative experience, most murders—aren’t otherworldly but relate to base human desires. So while Ishmael’s main role is to protect the team of scientists investigating the hole, he’s not above trying to figure out what’s happened. He could keep the scientists he’s charged with protecting safe if only they followed his and Penny’s sound advice to stick together. While the scattered team is picked off one by one, Ishmael begins to learn that he may have his own personal connection to the hole—a connection that may have something to tell him about his own alien origins, if he’s ready to listen.

It’s hard to believe that maimed scientists and a black hole are among the tamer elements in a story that’s surprisingly dark given its plot-driven focus.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8823-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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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