A cautionary tale of one man’s overreaching for excitement and the deadly consequences.

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THE DARKNESS BEHIND ME

Shannon debuts with a character-driven murder mystery set in the late 1960s.

By all appearances, Jack Bishop has everything a man could want. Handsome, fit, and successful, he works at Laughton Aeronautics, a major corporation that produces aircraft parts. Outside of his career, Jack has a beautiful wife, Joanna, and two children, but he feels restless nonetheless. The charm seems to have left his marriage, and he and Joanna are locked in an endless loop of quiet indifference. When Jack is asked to find a new assistant for a major project at work, he immediately falls for Lora Denning, the daughter of a longtime manager in his office whose beauty and seductive powers draw Jack out of his boredom. Before long, Jack is entangled in a dangerous affair that costs him not only his marriage, but his job, house, and security. Soon, the man who had it all finds himself homeless and stripped of all of his former power. But even these losses pale in comparison to the frightening truth he discovers about his mistress: she’s linked to a dark circle of people who are stealing from Jack’s company and selling secrets to not only rival companies, but countries that are embroiled in war. Even after jilting him, Lora sets Jack up to take the fall for his boss’s murder and leads him on a destructive path that has him pursued by the police for the heinous crimes. Jack’s story is one of delicious irony, as his pursuit of happiness at the cost of his loved ones results in his own destruction. Fast-paced and gripping, Jack and Joanna’s domestic troubles serve as a mere steppingstone to his intense struggle for safety as well as redemption for his sins. Although his mistakes are many, Jack emerges as sympathetic and heroic as he sets out to right the wrongs he himself set into motion. The novel packs in sex, espionage, murder, and betrayal in an original and compelling mix.

A cautionary tale of one man’s overreaching for excitement and the deadly consequences.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4918-7283-3

Page Count: 230

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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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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