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Bear is Broken

(Leo Maxwell #1)

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  693 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Lachlan Smith bursts onto the crime fiction scene with Bear Is Broken, a phenomenal debut that combines the elements of classic PI novels with the contemporary sheen of the best legal thrillers.

Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney, who racked up enemies as fast as he racked up acquittals. Leo has
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Mysterious Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.21  · 
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 ·  693 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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Apr 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
I really tried to like this debut novel - it's a Good Thing to root for debut authors, don't you think? But I found very little to like: the characters are not only unpleasant but stupid, the plot convoluted and nonsensical, the ending just one of many the author could have chosen. After a while I just didn't care... Why this has already been planned as a sequel is beyond me.
Larry H
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
As much as I love reading new books by my favorite authors, I really enjoy finding new writers, new voices to savor. Lachlan Smith is such a find, thanks to a recommendation from Amazon. His first thriller (the start of a series), Bear is Broken, might not break any new ground, but his characters are well-drawn and compelling, and I look forward to reading his future work.

It's 1999 in San Francisco. Leo Maxwell just found out he passed his bar exam. He has always lived in the shadows of his
Jenny Hilborne
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I read a pre-publication review copy, my full review will be published elsewhere. This is an excellent novel filled with suspense. Definitely recommended.
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having just passed the bar a few days earlier newly minted lawyer Leo Maxwell expected a routine lunch with his brother Teddy Maxwell. It was 1999 and Teddy was deep in trial and locked into the case. When in trial he always ate at Coruna. That habit meant the shooter knew exactly where Teddy would be when court was in recess and could easily plan the attack. The shooter walked in and briefly stood behind Leo before firing one shot over his shoulder and fired one round directly into Teddy’s head ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not generally a reader of mystery novels (in fact, the only ones I'd previously read are the classics by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and one Janet Evanovich novel which was literally handed to me on a beach). If asked to explain why I've generally eschewed this particular genre, I suppose I would say that I tend to prefer novels that are not just plot-driven; I like stories that are more character-driven, where the central conflict is rooted in complex psychological or moral ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Probably more deserving of 3 stars, which would be "it was okay" for me but I really can't say I liked this with full conviction. Perhaps I had my hopes set too high, falling for the back cover adverts, yet again. The Library Journal claimed "This engaging debut features well drawn characters and enough plot twists to please any mystery fan." Well, for me, not so much. The only character you get any depth from is Leo, the protagonist, and he just mostly seems to be flailing around, alternating ...more
Simon Mcleish
Bear is Broken starts off really well, if rather derivatively. (It reminded me very strongly of Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller novels.) It dips rather in the middle and never really recovers, with the viewpoint character trying to investigate the shooting of his brother flailing around like a loose cannon as he blunders into one accusation after another. There is little characterisation, except of the viewpoint character, and he isn't really very interesting.
Al Stoess
Feb 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Not much. Sorry I read it. Did not make a great deal of sense. Convoluted. Strange characters.

Skimmed again in August 2015.
Gloria Feit
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Leo Maxwell has just formally become a member of California State Bar. He is a man who does not think “ethical criminal defense attorney” is an oxymoron, perhaps putting him in the minority, certainly among the San Francisco police and the District Attorney’s office. His older brother, Teddy, is a member of that fraternity, a brilliant lawyer and one of the most sought-after criminal defense attorneys in northern California. As the two men share a lunch while on a break from the trial just ...more
Linda Munro
From inside of book jacket: “Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney who racked up enemies as quickly as he racked up acquittals. As children, their father was jailed for the murder of their mother, and Teddy was left to care for Leo who tried to emulate his older brother, even following him into the legal profession.”

“The two are at lunch one day when Teddy, supposed to give the closing argument of his current trial that
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published February 5, 2013 by HighBridge Audio
Read by R.C. Bray
Duration: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Lachlan Smith's debut novel is set in 1999 San Francisco. Leo Maxwell is a newly minted lawyer (less than a week) who was been helping around his brother's law office for the last few months. Teddy Maxwell is one of the most controversial and most successful defense attorneys in San Francisco. His specialty is not high profile clients, but hookers, drug dealers and the like. He is thoroughly hated by the
Laronica Conway
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: legal-thriller
There are a lot of crime/legal thrillers out there and this one falls in the middle of the pack. A young lawyer's brother (also a lawyer) is gunned down in the middle of a crowded restaurant and that act begins a convoluted tail of who killed Teddy. This book starts out with a LOT of promise but it slowly loses its way about mid-way through. The author tried hard to provide lots of odd coincidences and random characters who all, at first, seem unconnected.

We follow Leo, the young lawyer through
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Leo Maxwell has just passed the bar exam. His older brother, Teddy, is well known in San Francisco as a successful criminal defense attorney who might cross legal lines to win a case (although Leo doesn't believe it). When Teddy is shot in the head while next to Leo at lunch one day, Leo is devastated. After their father went to prison for murdering their mother, Teddy raised Leo (with the help of a series of housekeepers). However, Teddy kept his emotional distance from Leo and never really let ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
When Leo Maxwell's older brother, Teddy, a vilified criminal defense lawyer, is shot in the head point blank, the list of possible suspects is lengthy. Leo tries to find answers to his questions, but the shooter would rather kill him than be found out.

Since I have been enjoying quite a variety of books lately, I thought I'd try a murder mystery. Everything about this one is excellent....interesting characters, twisting plot, constant suspense, and rapid developments. But it all comes down to the
Nov 17, 2014 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: mystery, nook, fiction, e-book
Did not finish, so to be fair, no rating.

I started thinking about reading something else a third of the way into this combo legal thriller & murder mystery, when, after a reasonably decent beginning, the author began to pad the plot with contrived complications. I plowed on out of loyalty to the friend who recommended this book to me, but with a third of the book remaining I couldn't go on; I was no longer interested in what might happen, either with the unsolved mystery or with the
Andy Plonka
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot more to trhis slim volume than a mystery to be solved. The main protagonist, Leo Maxwell, 10 years younger than his brother, Teddy, has recenlt passed his bar exam and is learning the legal system from him. Teddy defends some dubious characters so it really isn't totally inexplicable when he is shot in the head at a restaurant across the table from Leo. What happens nextis as much a study in human behavior as it is a crime story.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent debut novel. Deep plot and good character development. At times, the author has you running in circles guessing whom the killer is, and can get a bit overwhelming for no apparent reason but to keep you confused. But definitely an author to watch for in the future! Haven't read a legal thriller I thoroughly enjoyed this much in the past year. Recommended!
Alafair Burke
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What I said: ""Lachlan Smith brings the culture of the courthouse and the complicated relationship between two brothers to life in this excellent debut."
Mar 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lachlan-smith
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A younger brother grows up in the wake of an attempted murder of his older brother. He is building his investigative and lawyering chops in solving the mystery.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2018
I didn't love it but I think there's absolutely potential.

Just after being sworn in as a lawyer, Leo Maxwell is lunching with his brother Teddy when someone walks up to them and put one right into Teddy's face, and walks away. Leo is beside himself, not only is his brother grievously injured, he has a closing tomorrow. So Leo does what he needs to do, he closes for him.

As Teddy's in a coma, Leo has no real faith in the police, his father is in jail for murdering his mom and he's pretty sure he
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Bear Is Broken is a well written book with well developed characters. The story was a little confusing and I felt lost a couple of times but I persevered and mostly everything got explained by the end of the book. At times the main character, Leo, was a bit too enthusiastic with his explanation of "whodunit" and seemed to put the blame on a variety of characters. This made the book seem like the author was stalling and looking for ways to lengthen the book. I would recommend this book to people ...more
Sharon Sample
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Publisher's Weekly has the most recent Lachlan Smith novel on its Best Books 2017, Thrillers list. As I've not read any of the previous Lachlan Smith novels I thought I ought to read the first novel in the series before any other.

"Bear is Broken" is an acceptable first novel as it meets my criteria for crime novels. The characters are interesting, the plot while not overly innovative, works, and the setting is vivid.

After reading two challenging, thought provoking books in 2018 I needed
Margaret1358 Joyce
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This legal thriller has a very authentic feel. The writing is taut, the plot plausible, the characters quite believable--in short, a fabulous read, written by a practicing civil rights lawyer who understands the myriad of things that can occur in the gray areas of the law, and who has, via Leo Maxwell, his protagonist lawyer, honed a fine set of skills to tackle said gray areas, or, as the country and western song goes, to 'walk that lonesome valley.'
Debbie Floyd
I give this debut 3.5 stars. The story line was interesting, at times as the story progressed it was a bit disjointed. All of the events did tie together and it will be interesting to see how another book in the series picks up and how the character of Leo progresses. Overall I felt that this was a good read, sort of what you would find in crime noir movies. I won this book on goodreads.
Charlotte Burnette
Leo ia going somewhere

How many terrible things can happen to one person? Mother dead, father in prison, brilliant brother shot and permanently disabled . . .how much worse can it get? Morbid curiosity makes you read on.
Judie Dooley
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book strong characters ,good story line. Kept me reading late into the night when my eyes kept closing. full of family dynamics and kept me guessing all the way to the end as to who the shooter was.
Wendy Stodder
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Entertaining book that I almost couldn’t read fast enough. Not really sure what the title means though and the book blinked off on the second to last page and I couldn’t finish but that doesn’t really change the end, just an annoyance.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked the characters and the writing, and plan to read the next one.
Frank Ogden
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
First in a mystery series starring Leo Maxwell. He is a lawyer who gets involved
In difficult cases.
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