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RECKLESS DISREGARD
by Robert Rotstein
Seventh Street Books, June 2014
352 pages
$15.95
ISBN: 1616148810


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Attorney Parker Stern is the main character in Robert Rotstein's RECKLESS DISREGARD, the second mystery in the Parker Stern series. Stern is an attorney whose life has taken a downward turn. After the break-up of the prestigious law firm where he worked, he is now a mediator and suffers from stage fright when he does go to court. Stern is contacted by Poniard, the mysterious creator of an online video game called "Abduction." This one-named entity is being sued for libel by a powerful mogul named William Bishop and insists that Stern represent him. The reason for the lawsuit is that “Abduction” accuses Bishop - known as William the Conqueror - of abducting and murdering an actress named Felicity McGrath. The game has become hugely popular. Groupies dressed up in costumes to resemble the characters in the game - called cosplayers - follow Stern around and try to interact with him. They seem benign at first, but then become more sinister. They create a disturbance outside of Stern's office, resulting in his losing his job. He then operates his investigation from the back of an espresso shop that he partly owns.

No one is quite who they appear to be at first. The characters we meet have unusual pasts that are only slowly revealed to us. People are entangled with each other in relationships that appear different depending upon whose eyes we are seeing them through. Poniard will not meet with Stern in person and his identity is hidden. Sternhas an odd but strangely competent case assistant named Brenda Sica and an investigator named Philip Paulsen who used to be a Catholic priest. Bishop's attorney is Lovely Diamond, who was once Stern's lover. People who try to help Stern are murdered. A missing film called "The Boatman," which is rumored to have used real drugs and sex in its scenes, seems to be at the root of what is going on. But does it even exist?

Rotstein is a lawyer as well as a fiction writer. He has a background in entertainment law, so the legal and film details in RECKLESS DISREGARD ring true. Unlikely mothers and lost children, filmmakers and film stars, mob connections, a powerful church leader - this book has more than its share of fascinating suspects. Revelation follows revelation and the surprises do not cease. This novel successfully unites a unique current phenomenon, the online video game, with a legal thriller and a murder mystery.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, June 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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