This novel certainly doesn’t skimp on twisty plot turns, but retains an understated, authentic approach to the law.

The Inevitable Witness

From the Bobby Earl series , Vol. 1

A Los Angeles lawyer defends a professional safecracker accused of murder in Rucker’s debut legal thriller.

Criminal defense attorney Bobby Earl gladly takes a case when the public defender is unavailable, especially after a judge assures him that he’ll be paid. Sydney Seabrooke is facing a murder charge, and evidence points to his presence at a Chinese restaurant where the body of LA cop Terry Horgan was found. Seabrooke professes his innocence, but the fact that he was at the scene of the crime in order to break into a safe doesn’t look good. But Earl is inclined to believe Seabrooke, who says he was pulling the job for bondsman Johnny Aradano in exchange for bail for an earlier, unrelated arrest. It also turns out that Horgan wasn’t an upstanding officer; although the cop didn’t own the restaurant, he did own the safe inside it, and Earl suspects that its contents—bulky stacks of cash—may have been the spoils of Horgan’s involvement with drug dealers. Before the trial begins, there’s a break-in at Earl’s office, and jailhouse snitch Jake “The Snake” Snyder claims that Seabrooke confessed to the murder. The attorney’s investigation into the seedy world of drugs provokes some dangerous people, but he still hopes to find a witness for the defense—or maybe even a killer. Rucker’s muted thriller steers clear of convention; there’s no glaring piece of evidence, for example, that guarantees that Earl will save his client. The story acknowledges its realism with humor, including nods to the TV series Law & Order (“most young women DA’s had chosen to emulate the female television prosecutors on ‘Law and Order,’ which meant exuding a toughness just short of announcing ‘mine are bigger than yours’ ”). Earl faces some other hurdles before and during the trial: he unintentionally irks television personality Thomas Glass (aka “The Thumb,” who has a knack for tipping scales of opinion one way or the other), and someone else threatens and takes a few shots at the lawyer. Overall, Earl’s a shrewd, worthy protagonist, surrounded by exceptional characters, including reliable investigator Manny Munoz and second-chair district attorney Samantha Price.

This novel certainly doesn’t skimp on twisty plot turns, but retains an understated, authentic approach to the law.

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9913274-7-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Chickadee Prince Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2016

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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