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ALMOST DAMNED by Christopher Leibig


by Christopher Leibig

Pub Date: April 1st, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64663-295-4
Publisher: Koehler Books

In this thriller sequel, a criminal defense lawyer’s newest case involves fallen angels and their human/demon offspring.

Virginia attorney Samson Young’s life has gotten more complicated lately. A woman connected to a case he defended and an anonymous call to his office both mention a ski trip that Sam knows nothing about. This ties to his subsequent summons to appear on Mount Hermon at the Israel-Syria border. His apparent clients in a lawsuit are Azazel and the fallen angels, who, having served a sentence of 70 generations in fire, wish to return to heaven. Sam will also make an appeal for these angels’ immortal hybrid children to become full, mortal humans. Meanwhile, he and his law partner, Amelia Griffin, continue working on cases in Bennet County. They defend a man accused of killing his wife who supposedly confessed his crime to a cellmate. Unexpectedly, Sam realizes this client and others are somehow connected to the Mount Hermon trial. Specifics on this case or those named in the summons aren’t easy to come by, as Sam’s questions generate cryptic responses. Still, it’s clear that some don’t want this particular dispute resolved; unknown individuals threaten or attack the attorney and his friends. Sam may also have a personal link to the fallen angels’ lineage. He has a telepathic ability that he uses in moderation, and his somewhat obscure family history features a relative who seems to have survived death. Soon, the protagonist will appear in front of a panel of archangel judges, with reputedly untrustworthy Samael as his opponent.

Leibig’s cross-genre novel, like the preceding installment, is first and foremost a legal thriller. For example, the counselors’ arguments propel the supernatural trial despite the presence of angels and discussions of immortality. This lawsuit teems with familiar courtroom sights, such as the calling and examining of witnesses, attorney objections, and closing statements. In the same vein, the author grounds the fantasy side of the story by often citing religious texts, including the Bible and the book of Enoch. Leibig deftly weaves religious references into the defense of the hybrids (seemingly punished for their fathers’ deeds) and the fallen angels’ backstory. The engrossing novel retains mystery as well. Sam (and readers) may surmise his connection to the angels and the hybrids, but he doesn’t get clarification until later. The author handles this with tongue-in-cheek observations, frequently noting characters’ intentional vagueness: When a member of Sam’s family “did answer, her words were often a response not to the question someone had asked, but rather to the question they should have asked.” Humor also comes in the form of snappy one-liners by Sam or legal investigator Nguyen Jones: “You’re always stitching up their softballs”; “You thought Paulo was fixin’ to trim our hedges.” While Nguyen serves as comic relief, Amelia proves herself a competent lawyer who is just as capable as Sam. The strong cast also includes characters whose dubiousness makes them unnerving, particularly as Sam believes someone is responsible for more than one recent death. There’s resolution by the end and a good chance Sam’s bizarre adventures are far from over.

An unconventional, absorbing legal thriller with elements of fantasy and the supernatural.