Far more action than diplomacy in this page-flipping yarn. Fans of diplomatic thrillers will love this one.



Another fast-paced diplomatic thriller featuring State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker (Minute Zero, 2015).

A gullible businessman in London falls hard for a free-money scam and disappears. Under an influential congressman’s pressure, Judd Ryker is reassigned from an important project to find the man. Then Judd’s wife, Jessica Ryker, who heads a covert unit at the CIA in Langley, is assigned to meet and learn about the Bear, a Russian mobster and “monster” who "operates a vast criminal syndicate from St. Petersburg" that extends worldwide, dealing in everything from “vodka and toilet paper” to “heroin and whores.” Then pirates attack an oil platform off the Nigerian coast, leaving no survivors. Fascinating characters populate the pages, like the 7-foot-2-inch Nigerian NBA player Tunde Babatunde; the fearsome Queen Sheba, who is a faux contract killer and really a CIA agent; Funke Kanju, the colorful internet personality and thorn in the Nigerian government’s side; and the obligatory venal congressman. Don’t get attached to everyone, though, because many don’t survive. All the while, young Nigerians engage in romantic intercontinental email conversations, deftly duping lonely hearts into writing large checks for airfare or medical bills. It was “the art of the scam in the age of free email…shaping the pitch to catch your perfect marks.” The action moves swiftly from Langley to Lagos to Saint Petersburg, with hardly time for a quiet bowl of borscht—trouble is always boiling, danger always present. But living on the edge for the CIA is a career well suited for Judd and Jessica, because they thrive on tension and challenge. The two are smart, appealing characters readers will enjoy spending a few hours with.

Far more action than diplomacy in this page-flipping yarn. Fans of diplomatic thrillers will love this one.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17594-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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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.


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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