In Kemanis’ (Everyone But Us, 2012) legal mystery, the fictional New York Assistant District Attorney Dana Hargrove’s close friend is implicated in a money-laundering investigation.
When Hargrove is transferred from prosecuting wayward misdemeanors to the well-respected Financial Crimes Bureau, she thinks her hard work, sleepless nights and dedication have finally paid off. Dana’s boss needs a contact to help track a drug cartel’s dirty money; when he finds out that Dana’s best friend, Melanie, works at the biggest bank in the city, he pressures Dana to get her on their side as an informant. When the bureau issues a subpoena that appears to connect Melanie’s husband, Noel, and his Spanish-language bookstore to the cartel, Dana investigates the situation on her own—without her friends’ or her superiors’ knowledge. But what will she do if her friends turn out to be criminals? Kemanis’ first novel delivers sturdy pacing and well-rounded characters. The relatable Dana convincingly tries to keep peace at work while also being careful not to jeopardize her personal relationships. However, her friend Noel is almost too good to be true; even though a relative in Colombia was once kidnapped and held for ransom, he refuses to see the evil in his daily life, and his naïveté may frustrate readers. However, Kemanis’ descriptions are outstanding; a man standing outside a courtroom has “a face full of holes like a bubbling pancake on the griddle, ready to be turned.” Although the story’s ending is somewhat predictable, Kemanis draws on her experience as a prosecutor at the county and state levels and brings her personal knowledge of the investigation process into the story. Her overall attention to detail makes the work a true page-turner.
An intelligent mystery about a career lawyer trapped between the professional and the personal.