In this thriller, a Texas lawyer comes to the aid of a war veteran who’s on trial for murder.
Reporter David Lewis, a double amputee since a street battle in Iraq, is pleasantly surprised by his run-in with Cordelia Lehrer. The two, who’d had a one-night stand in college, quickly reignite their intimacy. But there may be more to the reunion: Cordelia invites David to meet her father, Kingston, the prosperous owner of KL Media Group and its 50 daily newspapers. It’s apparent Daddy wants an heir, callously referring to his other married daughters as “barren.” David certainly fits the bill, with expertise in the operation of newspapers, and he and Cordelia are soon married and expecting. Just a couple of years later, however, David needs an attorney. He’s shot someone dead, or at least he thinks so, because he blacked out before seeing the lifeless body. He hires Donnie Ray Cuinn, and shortly thereafter, cops, doubting David’s claim of an accident, charge him with murder. Aware that the district attorney has David’s reputed motive, Donnie hopes a jury will believe the veteran truly suffers from PTSD. Though this is Donnie’s fourth appearance in Taylor’s (The Monkey House, 2015, etc.) series, he’s only in the novel’s latter half. The first half is David’s engrossing first-person narration, as he’s slowly drawn into the Lehrer family. There’s mystery even before the murder, like Cordelia’s agenda: is the marriage for love or merely a business deal to produce an heir? Much of Donnie’s part involves questioning witnesses on the stand during the trial. The story turns into a courtroom drama, less gripping than David’s account but sporting rapid-fire dialogue exchanges from both the prosecutor’s side and Donnie’s. And while there’s little room for exploring Donnie’s personal life, his prior relationship with the DA makes for tense scenes in court. Taylor stamps his novel with a doozy of an ending.
A sufficient legal tale augmented by a meticulous examination of the accused.