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DRINK TO EVERY BEAST
by Joel Burcat
Headline, June 2019
352 pages
$19.95
ISBN: 1946664626


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In Joel Burcat's debut novel, DRINK TO EVERY BEAST, environmental prosecutor Mike Jacobs has been assigned his first big case. Two teenagers have died after swimming in a chemically contaminated river, and Jacobs must find who has been illegally dumping. As he investigates, strange threats are made that shake him to the core.

Along the way, he will be stuck between two women in his life. Sherry Stein, the Deputy Attorney General who is investigating the man running against the Governor, and Patty Dixon, his mother's nurse. Sherry is drawn to Jacobs as his work leaves him no choice but to be involved in the election. Patty just wants to care for her daughter and stop worrying about her ex, and Jacobs is more than willing to help distract her from him. But the closer Patty gets, the more she'll become a target. As the investigation goes on, Jacobs will wonder who around him he can trust.

DRINK TO EVERY BEAST provides a great look into an uncommon thriller subject. I love learning about different areas of criminology, and environmental law and prosecution was a new one for me. With Joel Burcat working as an environmental and energy lawyer, it was good to know that the author has the credentials to write knowledgeably on the subject and that he is able to develop the novel's sinister plot in an informative yet entertaining form.

However, much of the investigation falls to the wayside when Jacobs deals with his personal life. At times, DRINK TO EVERY BEAST is more romance than thriller, and so I felt the chemical dumping investigation was not very important in Mike's motivation. Throughout the novel he is struggling between the affections of Sherry and Patty and that is most of what we read about even when the point of view switches to a couple of stalking officers.

Along with the romance, some minor family drama is part of the subplot. Altogether, I sometimes felt that the suspense of the dumping and murder was dropped at times to make room for Jacobs' personal problems. This is his first big case, and he seems more concerned about which woman to choose than the threats being made to his life.

Overall, the idea was intriguing, and I believe that Burcat has a wonderful chance to examine a current and pressing concern less frequently explored in crime fiction. As it is, however, DRINK TO EVERY BEAST may not be a drink for everyone.

Keshena Hanson recently earned a degree in English from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and was published in the University's Sheepshead Review. Her love for mystery started with Blue's Clues, and now she reads any mystery she can get her hands on.

Reviewed by Keshena Hanson, September 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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