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SAVING EMMA by Allen Eskens Kirkus Star


by Allen Eskens

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 2023
ISBN: 9780316566353
Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Boady Sanden, former director of the Innocence Project, is persuaded to reopen a case that was closed four years ago. And the clock is ticking.

Ruth Matthews is convinced both that her brother, Elijah, is a prophet who talks with God and that he didn’t kill Jalen Bale, the pastor bashed to death while Elijah was a janitor at the Church of the New Hope, even though he's been locked in a mental hospital since having been found not guilty by reason of insanity. The evidence against Elijah was overwhelming, but the real reason Boady doesn’t want the job is that Elijah’s attorney was Ben Pruitt, Boady’s law partner and best friend, who killed his wife, nearly got away with it, and then, when Boady confronted him with proof of his guilt, committed suicide by cop in Boady’s study as his partner looked on. The good news is that Boady almost immediately starts to find holes in the case against Elijah, who’s more interested in oracular prophecies than answering simple questions. The bad news is that Emma Pruitt, the daughter Boady and his wife, Dee, took in as a ward four years ago without telling her how her father died, has been turned against them by her wealthy, rapacious aunt, Anna Adler, who’s filed papers to replace their guardianship of Emma with her own. Now Boady has two impossible tasks—vindicating Elijah before the hearing that will permit his doctor to scramble his brain with electroconvulsive therapy and persuading Emma to return to his family—and that second one cuts agonizingly close to the bone. Somehow he manages to collect more and more information that exonerates Elijah and throws suspicion elsewhere. But will he be able to rise above his own bias for seeing every conflict in legal terms and convince Emma that he loves her like a father?

Ambitious, absorbing, and deeply satisfying.