Gripping and thoroughly unsettling: This one will be flying off the shelves.

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THE PLOT

A washed-up novelist finds bestselling success with a story purloined from an arrogant student. What could possibly go wrong?

Pretty much everything in Korelitz’s satisfyingly twisty thriller. But at first, when Jacob Finch Bonner learns about the sudden death of Evan Parker, the jerk who'd swaggered into his office at a 10th-rate low-residency MFA program and shared the outrageous plot premise that was going to make him rich and famous, it seems as though taking the idea and making it his own is perfectly safe. Three years later, the resulting novel, Crib, has sold 2 million copies in nine months, and Jake has met wonderful Anna Williams, the program director of a radio show he visits while on tour in Seattle. But then he gets an email from TalentedTom@gmail.com proclaiming, “You are a thief,” and his new life threatens to unravel. Korelitz teasingly alternates the story of Jake’s desperate quest to find out who this anonymous accuser is and how he knows about Evan’s idea with chapters from Crib—just enough to stoke curiosity about what exactly this fabulous plot device is. Alert readers will guess some of the twists in advance as Jake follows the trail to Evan’s family home in Vermont and slowly realizes Evan didn’t invent this shocking story but lifted it from the real life of someone who is very, very angry about it; Korelitz plays fair and plants clues throughout. But only the shrewdest will anticipate the jaw-dropping final revelation. (Hint: Think about those Talented Mr. Ripley references.) Korelitz, who demonstrated in Admission (2009) and You Should Have Known (2014) that she knows how to blend suspense with complex character studies, falls a little short on the character end here; Jake is a sympathetic but slightly bland protagonist, and Anna has the only other fully developed personality. No one will care as the story hurtles toward the creepy climax, in the best tradition of Patricia Highsmith and other chroniclers of the human psyche’s darkest depths.

Gripping and thoroughly unsettling: This one will be flying off the shelves.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79076-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

THE CELLIST

Gabriel Allon goes after the deadliest weapon at the Russian president’s disposal—his money.

When CIA agent–turned–art dealer Sarah Bancroft finds the dead body of Viktor Orlov, a wealthy newspaper publisher and Russian dissident, the grim discovery leads Gabriel Allon, the head of Israel’s intelligence service, to a treasure trove of documents detailing massive financial crimes. Once he tracks down the woman who leaked these documents, Gabriel may finally have the tools he needs to take down the autocrat in the Kremlin. “A nuclear bomb can only be dropped once. But money can be wielded every day with no fallout and no threat of mutually assured destruction.” This bit of wisdom comes from a Russian operative Gabriel captured in The Other Woman (2018), and Silva makes a persuasive case that the best way to neutralize the threat of troll farms and disinformation campaigns is to starve these operations of cash. But this is a thriller, not an essay in Foreign Policy. It turns out that money laundering isn’t inherently exciting, and Silva does little to make it so. Identifying the shadowy figure who manages the Russian president’s fortune is easy, as is infiltrating his world. All the characters in this universe are types, but most of them are crafted with verisimilitude sufficient to keep the reader engaged. The titular cellist, Isabel Brenner, is a beautiful blond blank. It’s not at all clear why she makes the transition from functionary at a dirty bank to amateur spy willing to risk her life to ruin oligarchs. In previous novels, Silva wove in chapters written from the points of view of the bad guys. This technique creates dramatic irony, and it has given us some truly terrific villains—horrifying sadists and gleeful monsters of corruption who make excellent foils for the nearly superhuman Gabriel. Past installments have also given Gabriel's team more to do, and it’s impossible not to miss them and their spycraft.

As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-283486-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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