In this thriller, men high up the legal food chain in San Antonio, Texas, mix sexual deviance and religious finagling in order to get their way.
Southers’ novel opens with serial shoplifter Alexandra Jiminez having her case heard in front of a grievance committee regarding a complaint against Jose P. Quiroz, her former attorney. Alexandra loses the first case but succeeds in the second, when she joins forces with two other women Quiroz has left in his wake. When Quiroz takes the matter to civil court, Southers introduces a sexual miscreant judge from North Texas, as well as a twisted monsignor. The judge risks exposure for his one-night stand with a former stripper, and the monsignor—whom Quiroz has helped out for years—threatens the sacraments of a key accuser. The web that Southers (himself an attorney) weaves pulls in the reader with its moralizing corkscrews, which are uncanny yet organic to the plot of this legal thriller. The main storyline, which slowly follows the unfolding case, omnisciently traces the courtroom happenings, but it tends to be repetitive and dry. However, the short sections that focus on the comings and goings of individual characters can be poignant in their detail. The themes he deals with are unsavory and very real, although his writing can at times be clunky, particularly with regard to dialogue and characters’ internal thoughts. Nonetheless, given the promise he shows, Southers might deserve his readers’ patience as he irons out the kinks in his writing. The novel’s final, fatal twist serves as a fitting end to this first book in a planned trilogy.
Packs a punch and develops characters that may well deserve another visit.