Ms.pegasus's Reviews > Damage

Damage by John Lescroart
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's review
Jul 14, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: suspense, mystery, fiction
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: gr readers
Recommended for: lovers of suspense
Read in July, 2012 , read count: 1

Eschewing the typical template of a main character navigating the maze of a mystery, Lescroart has written a surprisingly interesting story combining elements of a legal procedural and an inspection of moral consequences on the characters involved. This was a pleasant surprise, distancing the book from the superficiality of a “Law and Order” scenario by the focus on multiple characters.

Wes Farrell is the newby DA, boyish in his excitement at winning the election, but clueless about the politics of the position. One of the best scenes in the book is when he finally looses his temper and berates his top assistant, Amanda Jenkins and Abe Glitsky, head of the homicide division when he is called on the carpet by the mayor. Amanda is savvy and aggressive – the legal profession's embodiment of the line associated with Vince Lombardi: “Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.” Of course from her perspective, circumstantial evidence is like a huge neon sign flashing a signal of guilt.

The situation Lescroart sets up is straight-forward. Convicted and undeniably guilty rapist/murderer Ro Curtlee successfully petitions for a retrial, after having served 10 years of his sentence. His parents own a major newspaper, and were heavy contributors to Farrell's campaign. Curtlee is now trying to get his freedom on bail until the retrial, which may not occur until far into the future. Vexing questions ensue. Will the DA intervene to keep Curtlee, a vicious sociopath, in prison? When one of the two witnesses at his previous trial dies in a brutal arson, how aggressively can Glitsky pursue Curtlee as his prime suspect without physical evidence to back him up? How does Curtlee's bid for freedom affect Mike Durbin, the foreman of the jury that convicted Curtlee? Durbin's once promising career as an artist was destroyed by the sensationalized publicity stirred up by the Curtlee-owned newspaper.

Lescroart deserves extra points for the restraint that he exercises in writing about the actual murders. Typically, he sets up the tension of an impending crime, and then, like in Greek drama, lets the actual act occur off-stage, rather than luxuriating in specifics of the crime. Instead he focuses on the aftermath – the effect on the other characters. Unfortunately, he does not always capitalize on the development of his characters, except when a situation will aid the progress of the plot. Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable read, particularly apt for summertime enjoyment.

Other reviewers have mentioned that this book is part of a long series. This is my first Lescroart book, and I would be interested in the earlier books which feature Farrell's law partner, the eccentric Dismas Hardy. One further comment: I read this on “Kindle.” The device has the annoying habit of not taking the reader to the actual beginning of a book. In this case, there is an important “Prologue” chapter, not identified in the table of contents, but which is actually the start of the story. Be sure to start at the cover and page forward, so as not to miss it.
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James Thane I liked this book as well, for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. However, there are a lot of books in the series that I think are better than this one. For what it's worth, this is a series where there is a lot of character development from book to book, and if you think you might like to read more of them, I'd encourage you to start with the first one, Dead Irish. Otherwise, if you skip around, you may learn things in later books that will take the surprise out of the earlier books for you.

Ms.pegasus James wrote: "I liked this book as well, for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. However, there are a lot of books in the series that I think are better than this one. For what it's worth, this is a series where..."

Thanks for the advice. I like to expand my range and in many new series, am left wondering about the trajectory (everyone has up's and down's) of the author's work. Also, I find if you start at the beginning and work your way forward, it influences one's enjoyment of the characters. I absolutely understand what you mean by prematurely learning about plot points and appreciate your mentioning that. I'm pleased that at least some of my observations were shared by you. Have marked DEAD IRISH as one of my "to reads." You reaffirm my impression that this author is definitely worth exploring further.

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