Proof, if any were needed by now, that Rimington is better at worldbuilding than storytelling. The threat is real, the...

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THE MOSCOW SLEEPERS

Those pesky Russians, who just don’t know when to quit, are at it again in this sedate 10th adventure for Liz Carlyle.

Whatever changed when Liz moved from MI5 to MI6 (Breaking Cover, 2016), it wasn’t the activity level of the FSB, the Russian intelligence service. According to Mischa Bebchuk, the army officer–turned–CIA informant, his brother Boris, an FSB officer, is even more anxious than usual because there are rumors of a leak close to the service, something Mischa naturally knows more about than anyone else. What does this wave of anxiety have to do with Lars Petersen, a University of Vermont professor who died shortly after an unusually chatty (and hushed) visit from somebody signing the hospice register as Ohlson, a self-professed old friend from Montreal who was the first person who’d ever come to see him? The link may run through Hamburg’s Freitang School, a gymnasium for immigrant children whose head, Irma Nimitz, seems to be preparing her charges for something her husband, Dieter, who’s with the European Commission for Refugees, thinks may be more than a little iffy—his fears echoing those of Florence Girling, an assistant at Bartholomew Manor College back in Shropshire. Sadly, Ohlson soon vanishes from the story; Dieter spends most of his time fretting; Boris remains offstage; Irma remains in the shadows; and Liz’s most decisive intervention is to get caught snooping around the headmaster’s office at Bartholomew Manor. Amid the general lassitude, only Miss Girling flickers to unsteady life as Her Majesty’s counterintelligence services mostly stand by and watch as a clever cyberterrorist plot trips over its own feet rather than being brought down by their efforts.

Proof, if any were needed by now, that Rimington is better at worldbuilding than storytelling. The threat is real, the bureaucratic infighting sharply detailed, the tradecraft circumspect. The only thing left shortchanged is the plot.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63286-797-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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