Crouch (Cried For No One, 2013) returns to the high-stakes world of Texas civil litigation with the next Jace Forman thriller.
When a grieving couple attempting to bury their veteran daughter is confronted by a group of fanatical Christian protestors outside her funeral, they go to well-respected Fort Worth attorney Jace Forman for justice. In nearby Austin, dogged legal reporter Leah Rosen, hot on the trail of a star lawyer who may be using false evidence to win cases, finds a dead fish in her bed, the word “STOP” written in lipstick across her pillowcase. For help in their respective investigations, both Forman and Rosen turn to virtuoso PI Jackie McLaughlin to get them the answers they need. Looming over everything is Forman’s rival, Cal Connors, the subject of Rosen’s article and a man who doesn’t feel the need to play by the rules when the system is stacked against his clients. Last assembled in Crouch’s previous novel, the cast is back for an even greater task: challenging the limitations of speech, religion and the First Amendment. Crouch is a fine practitioner of the courtroom drama. He knows just how to bring a legal case to life without having to dress it up or dumb it down. His prose is precise and clear, pushing readers forward with an understated elegance. Characters—heroes, villains and those in between—are fully formed creatures with personal hungers, demons and large helpings of Texas personality. Since pacing is right on point, the pages all but turn themselves as each scene builds on the next, working outward in a spiderweb of connections, complications and coincidences. The story gets bigger as it goes along, with Crouch keeping it skillfully managed the whole way. Inspired by news headlines, this timely novel illustrates how even the simplest seeming disputes are complex in the eyes of the law. Serving justice, it turns out, sometimes requires a creative strategy.
A topical, lively