James Thane's Reviews > Heart of a Killer

Heart of a Killer by David Rosenfelt
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's review
Apr 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: legal-thrillers, crime-fiction
Read in April, 2012

Jamie Wagner is a young lawyer at a large firm on the fast track to nowhere, at least professionally. He knows that he's never going to make partner, which is okay by him because, while he's a really smart guy and a Harvard graduate, he's not all that ambitious. He's generally marking time and flying under the radar when the firm assigns him to a pro bono case.

Jamie's new client is Sheryl Harrison who confessed to the murder of her husband six years earlier and was convicted of the crime. She's now serving her sentence, but her daughter, who is fourteen, is desperately ill and needs a heart transplant. Without one, she will die, and soon. Sheryl is a perfect match and wants Jamie to arrange things legally so that she can donate her heart to her daughter. The request poses all sorts of daunting moral and legal obstacles for Jamie to overcome and the young man who has never taken himself very seriously suddenly finds himself immersed in the most challenging, complex and deadly serious case of his career.

While Jamie wrestles with the case, the reader is diverted to a subplot involving a computer genius who is who is creating mayhem in various parts of the country and for much of the novel the two stories share space without ever intersecting. The subplot is not very convincing and the reader (well, this reader anyway) kept wishing that the author would get back to the Jamie/Sheryl story which is much more interesting and thought-provoking.

Even though the situation that Sheryl and her daughter face is extremely serious, both Sheryl and Jamie are smart, witty people and the book has some banter between them and some humor that never seems inappropriate. These are interesting, well-drawn characters that you enjoy spending time with, even as you wrestle with the moral questions involved in Sheryl's determination to sacrifice her own life for her daughter.

If I had the option, I'd give this book three and a half stars. I really like the setup and the characters. I was much less excited about the subplot and I think that the main story would have been better served had the subplot been left out.

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