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by Jay Brandon
Forge, May 2004
432 pages
ISBN: 0765308924

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Earlier Chris Sinclair novels must have pleased me because I grabbed this one with great anticipation. Disappointed? Very. While this book follows many of the standards of legal thrillers, it is dead boring and peopled with characters of such staggering stupidity that I kept reading in the hope that I followed numerous red herrings instead of human fools. I was wrong.

The plot involves an old case in which district attorney Sinclair was used by corrupt police to imprison one of their own who refused to be 'one of the boys.' Sinclair is, understandably, upset when he discovers his role in the miscarriage of justice and goes full-out to correct his mistake.

All the ingredients of a terrific psychological/legal thriller emerge from the situation but Brandon handles the plot and character development as if he's bored with the whole thing and paying little attention as he writes. The Grand Finale reads as if he suddenly realized he was out of page length requirement and could therefore wind it all up in one weird scene where All Is Revealed.

The courtroom sequence, a necessary part of any legal thriller, strains the suspension of disbelief of any reader who is even remotely aware of proper court behavior. Opening statements and summations are stunningly dull in spite of what seems an off-handed effort by the author to inject 'the woman' s touch' into the verbal moment. If this writer thinks he understands women and their motives for crime, he has missed the boat so far as to be drowning in his silly conjectures. I was less offended than annoyed.

I was offended, however, by the clear lack of writing skill shown in this book and wonder how I'd missed it in past novels. Simple rules of point of view and interior monologue seem beyond this writer. If such a work were handed in to me in a creative writing class, I'd insist the material be rewritten after the writer had studied the craft a while longer!

One more point: the love interest of the hero is a woman who, given the rules and mores of her profession, comes across as dumber than dirt in this story. The clumsy use of her stupidity to inject tension into the plot failed miserably. I do not recommend this book.

Reviewed by Sharon Brondos, May 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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