A Kirkus Reviews starred review for Stephen Woodfin’s The Warrior with Alzheimer’s: The Battle for Justice

Kirkus Reviews


Many of you are readers who all your life have seen snippets or book blurbs attributed to the venerable book review company, Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus is a gold standard among review sites, and is recognized as a source of reliable, tough,  reviews, reviews readers can take to the bank.

For Indie authors, Kirkus represents an opportunity to obtain reviews that carry weight and credibility.

To be sure the cost of admission isn’t cheap.  Kirkus charges $425 for a review for “standard” service (7-9 weeks) and $575 for “express” service (4-6 weeks).  The author pays up front, makes her submission and waits.

When the review arrives, the author can download it, study it and make her decision.  That decision is to publish it or not publish it on the Kirkus site. Under the Kirkus Indie Excerpting Policies, all reviews must be published in their entirety on KirkusReviews.com before any portion of the reviews are published (online or in print) for any use.

The author has the prerogative not to publish a review she requested.  So if an author pays her  money and doesn’t like the review, she doesn’t authorize Kirkus to publish it, and it never sees the light of day.

That’s quite a gamble.

Kind of like paying your daughter’s tuition to college and wondering if she will ever  make it to class.

Enough background on Kirkus.

A couple of months ago I bit the bullet and submitted one of  my books.alzheimersWarrior revised resized for BN

On Monday, March 11, 2013, I received the review.

The  moment before I opened the file was  something akin to all the shows you see where guys are attempting to disarm a bomb and the timer is clicking down.

It turned out all right.

Not only was it a good review, it was a “starred” review. According to the Kirkus site, the Kirkus Star is awarded “to books of exceptional merit.”

Wow. I’ll take it.

Here is the review (published in its entirety by permission). You can click here to see it on KirkusReviews.com.


A legal thriller that does double duty as a poignant tale of a love challenged by the indignities of Alzheimer’s and the corrupt judicial system that refuses to acknowledge them.

Woodrow “Woody” Wilson has begun to forget things. He’s having not just the typical memory slips that increase as a man enters his 80s, but telling lapses such as not recognizing family members or believing their good intentions. When such moments arise, Woody takes off in his truck, and his loving son, Waylon, and wife, Maggie, tail him as he revisits cherished places from his past. One day, however, Woody ditches his truck and disappears with an unknown man. The family enlists the help of investigator Sherwood “Shot Glass” Reynolds, a recovering alcoholic who witnessed his own father’s battle with dementia. Reynolds soon identifies the stranger as Linus Schmutzer Jr., aka Doc Smooth, a psychiatrist forced to resign for conducting unauthorized experiments on Alzheimer’s patients. Yet all is not as it seems, as Waylon and Reynolds unravel a wartime connection between the abductor and abductee that stretches back to Auschwitz. A dangerous lapse into dementia leads Woody to hold a deputy at gunpoint, which results in his arrest. His court-appointed lawyer, Pythagoras “Thag” Clemons, lives a woebegone existence that makes Reynolds’ sad life shine by comparison. Thag is also painfully familiar with Alzheimer’s, and he joins the motley crew, which soon includes Woody’s cellmates, in an audacious plan to get justice for the ailing World War II veteran. Woodfin (The Lazarus Deception, 2013, etc.), an attorney with several thrillers to his name, expertly combines the detailed machinations of the legal system with a fast-moving, twisting plot that leads to an unanticipated climax. His tender portrayal of Woody and Maggie’s deeply felt love is a welcome surprise, as are the many near-poetic depictions of dementia that evoke pathos without a hint of sentimentality.

A fine thriller, with a bittersweet love story that lingers long after the last page.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Wow, again.

(Stephen Woodfin is an attorney and the author of seven novels.)

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