Never lags for intrigue as it interweaves the lives of Thai street children with a tale of political power gone bad.

BREATHING WATER

Half Filipino, half-American travel writer and unlikely action hero Poke Rafferty (The Fourth Watcher, 2008, etc.) once again gives in to his penchant for finding trouble on the streets of Bangkok.

Poke has it all: A smart, stunning Thai wife named Rose, an adopted daughter, Miaow, and a thriving career as an author and journalist. But Rose is no ordinary wife, having escaped the sleazy bar scene with Poke’s help and encouragement, and Miaow once cruised the streets as part of a gang of homeless kids. Now both are firmly family, but Poke’s tendency to keep digging in places he probably shouldn’t puts both his and their lives in jeopardy. His latest problem starts with a less-than-ordinary poker game involving his police friend Arthit and a legendary billionaire named Pan. Once a small-time thug, Pan used his considerable skills to turn himself into a tycoon. But Pan’s past is a source of both mystery and speculation, and writing Pan’s biography is the Holy Grail of Thai writers. Although past scribes who attempted this literary coup failed to deliver, Poke has an inside track: Pan agrees to cooperate with him, although the mighty man’s cooperation doesn’t come willingly. Soon Poke discovers that having Pan’s permission to delve into his underworld dealings doesn’t mean smooth sailing—in fact, just the opposite. There are also powerful people determined to stop Roke, even if that means killing his entire family and anyone who helps him. As Poke tries desperately to sort the bad guys from the good, a young friend from his past resurfaces, and Arthit deals with a personal tragedy that could destroy him. Hallinan’s prose will engage readers, but first they’ll need to overlook such small bits of silliness in the plot as a pig sty in an expensive mansion.

Never lags for intrigue as it interweaves the lives of Thai street children with a tale of political power gone bad.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-167223-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.

CODE NAME HÉLÈNE

A historical novel explores the intersection of love and war in the life of Australian-born World War II heroine Nancy Grace Augusta Wake.

Lawhon’s (I Was Anastasia, 2018, etc.) carefully researched, lively historical novels tend to be founded on a strategic chronological gambit, whether it’s the suspenseful countdown to the landing of the Hindenberg or the tale of a Romanov princess told backward and forward at once. In her fourth novel, she splits the story of the amazing Nancy Wake, woman of many aliases, into two interwoven strands, both told in first-person present. One begins on Feb. 29th, 1944, when Wake, code-named Hélène by the British Special Operations Executive, parachutes into Vichy-controlled France to aid the troops of the Resistance, working with comrades “Hubert” and “Denden”—two of many vividly drawn supporting characters. “I wake just before dawn with a full bladder and the uncomfortable realization that I am surrounded on all sides by two hundred sex-starved Frenchmen,” she says. The second strand starts eight years earlier in Paris, where Wake is launching a career as a freelance journalist, covering early stories of the Nazi rise and learning to drink with the hardcore journos, her purse-pooch Picon in her lap. Though she claims the dog “will be the great love of [her] life,” she is about to meet the hunky Marseille-based industrialist Henri Fiocca, whose dashing courtship involves French 75 cocktails, unexpected appearances, and a drawn-out seduction. As always when going into battle, even the ones with guns and grenades, Nancy says “I wear my favorite armor…red lipstick.” Both strands offer plenty of fireworks and heroism as they converge to explain all. The author begs forgiveness in an informative afterword for all the drinking and swearing. Hey! No apologies necessary!

A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54468-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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