An engaging courtroom tale, despite an uneven mashup of genres.

WHITE JR.'S TRIAL

In this sequel, the badly managed trial of a wealthy young lawyer for the rape and attempted murder of a former prostitute forces a reclusive attorney to return to Los Angeles.

It was a bear of a case. Not only was the accused the son of one of LA’s most respected lawyers, but there were problems with the victim’s story. After the rape, during which Kelly Luthan said she slashed White Jr. with a knife, she drove herself directly to the district attorney’s office, not stopping for any medical care. Deputy District Attorney Sarah Cartwright immediately filed charges and obtained an indictment against White Jr., even before the investigation was completed. Then she resigned from the DA’s office and went off to parts unknown. Now, the case is in the eager hands of a relative novice, Katelyn Kruz. Notwithstanding her initial court success convincing the judge to deny White Jr. bail, Katelyn is out of her depth against the legal eagles assembled by Richard White Sr. Jack Wayne, a senior member of the DA’s Sexual Assault Team, suspects his boss, a close friend of White Sr., has quietly ordered Katelyn not be given any assistance by the group’s more seasoned prosecutors. Jack meets with LA Police Department Detective Jones, the only one who knows Sarah’s whereabouts, and tells him the case will tank if she doesn’t return to help Katelyn. Augustine's (A Brush with Love, a Brush with the Law, 2014) experience as an attorney gives the courtroom proceedings some substance. The section dealing with jury selection is especially intriguing. The bulk of this romance novel/legal thriller hybrid deals with Sarah’s and Kelly’s complicated personal dramas, and some high-action danger adds unexpected excitement. Sarah and her husband, David Nolan, were introduced in the author’s debut. But Augustine is stingy with catch-up information, making it difficult for readers to assess the complicated relationships between White Jr., Sarah, Kelly, and David. In an endnote, the author coyly suggests that readers turn to the earlier book to test the accuracy of their assumptions about Sarah. Cute, but irritating.

An engaging courtroom tale, despite an uneven mashup of genres.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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