I had few expectations of The Verdict when I began reading. I knew it was a legal mystery (always a draw for me) and that the protagonist was going to be part of the defense team for a man he hates (that was the hook in the description). But I'd read nothing else by the author or any reviews of the book, so other than knowing those things, it was a total mystery (ha! sorry for the pun). Turns out it's going to be one of my best of the year. Don't you love when that happens?
So here's the deal: Terry Flynt works as a legal clerk in a large London firm. He's relatively new and so far the hardest thing about his job is dealing with Arabella (aka Adolf), a fellow clerk and office bully. That relationship gets worse when Terry is asked to assist on a huge criminal case. A millionaire has been arrested for the murder of a woman found in his hotel suite and he's hired Terry's law firm. If Terry does a good job on the case, he has a shot at a paralegal position and to have his law school tuition paid for by the firm. A no brainer, right?
But here's the kicker: The defendent is Vernon James. Terry grew up with Vernon in a working-class neighborhood and until college, the two were best friends. Then Vernon betrayed him and Terry's life went to hell. So how does he help defend a man he loathes? A man he's pretty convinced is guilty? And if he does, how does he keep his bosses from knowing his connection to Vernon?
I flew through reading this one and though it's a long one (~500 pgs.), I wished it didn't have to end. As Terry is drawn deeper into Vernon's troubles he has to deal with office politics, hidden schemes and perhaps danger to his own life. This one worked for me in every way. I'll consider it an early Christmas gift to myself....more
Courting Disaster started out very strongly. Carling Dent is a defense attorney who has become more of a risk taker since a shooting that almost tookCourting Disaster started out very strongly. Carling Dent is a defense attorney who has become more of a risk taker since a shooting that almost took her life a year ago. That attack left her client, an accountant who may have been laundering money for the Russian mob, dead and Carling (who was shot in the head) with a no memory of the attack and a change in personality. Part of her new chance-taking affect manifests itself in the types of clients she takes - accused rapists and possible mob elements included. A car accident changes everything for her, leaving her with a concussion and disorienting flashes of memory. Determined to figure out what happened a year ago Carling sets out on a collision course with mobsters and former lover, prosecutor Jared Manning.
I liked the set-up here - I'm curiously attracted to amnesia stories - and Carling was initially someone who intrigued me as she struggled to put the two parts of her life together, before and after the shooting. What brought the book down a bit for me in the second half were a few elements: the fact that the author mostly dropped any reference to Carling's disorientation, Jared's somewhat controlling insistence regarding how Carling conducts her professional life (he takes her to task for interrogating a rape victim who is later murdered - through no fault of hers), and the fact that Carling lost a few IQ points in regards to the investigation.
This one was strong enough to cause me to look for others in what I assume is a series featuring Carling and her two attractive, law partners but I can't call it an unqualified success. If I had to grade it, it would probably get a B-....more
I'm a fan of legal mysteries. Goes back to my teenage reading of every Perry Mason book I could find. I was such an fan of them that I once consideredI'm a fan of legal mysteries. Goes back to my teenage reading of every Perry Mason book I could find. I was such an fan of them that I once considered being a lawyer. I have visions of defending innocent clients and having that gotcha moment with my version of Hamilton Burger. When I realized that an actual lawyer's job is usually something quite different then it is depicted in books and tv (surprise, surprise), I decided to go with my broader love of books and become a librarian. That decision having been made, I'm still a big reader of legal mysteries and thrillers and I'm always on the lookout for a new one. But Remember Their Names by Hillary Bell Locke is a promising debut.
Cynthia Jakubec recently graduated from Harvard Law School. While that kind of educational background means she can finally move to NYC, right now her life is on hold. The blue-chip law firm seeking to hire her is experiencing the pangs of the recent recession so they have deferred her hire for a few months. In the meantime, while they are paying her a nominal salary to stay available, they ask that she not do legal work that could be seen as competition for their firm. What's a girl to do? What Cynthia has done is take an internship with Pittsburgh attorney Luis Mendoza. While eager to shake her Pittsburgh roots, Cynthia throws herself into the work and is happy when she's asked to help when 16-year-old Cailin Bradshaw needs help. Caitlin's father has been found murdered and left as part of a display in a museum. As Cynthia delves into the mystery she finds there is more then a dysfunctional family at the heart of this case. She is soon caught up in the hunt for a missing art collection, valued at $500 million, and the complications that a wealthy victim brings.
Though I sometimes thought the actual murder got a little lost, I liked the protagonist a lot. She has a very practical style and I liked that she has a clear-eyed view of what working as a corporate attorney will mean - both for good and ill.