Lawyer Jeff Trask is just settling into his new job as an Assistant U.S. Attorney when he becomes embroiled in what seems at first to be a simple murder case, but quickly evolves into a high-stakes international case that could break an already-strapped legal system.
Trask is a rookie U.S Attorney who believes in “the system” and all who participate in it. However, his first case ends up challenging his notion of how to do his job and who to trust. Fans of the legal-thriller genre will recognize the usual suspects: the unlikely cop duo, the wise supervisor and even the insider bad guy. Still, the stock characters are well developed, and the elements are assembled so seamlessly that the story feels fresh. Rainer’s attention to setting also shines through. The streets of Washington, D.C., come alive; those who have lived or worked in the nation’s capital will recognize Rainer’s cunning use of seedy locales to give the action in the book a realistic tone. Perhaps too much time is spent setting up all the major players in this story, so impatient readers will need to resist the urge to flip forward and go directly to the action. Trask, an engaging and relatable main character, frequently finds himself questioning those closest to him as he works to find out who is behind the heinous murders plaguing D.C. Despite being exceedingly intelligent, he comes across as an everyman. Refreshingly, the legal jargon is kept to a minimum, so the reader can focus on the mystery at hand. But the story drags where romance is concerned: Trask’s relationship with Lynn Preston feels forced because it’s developed too quickly. The two meet early in the story, yet although their relationship takes some twists and turns, it rarely feels real, as opposed to the authentic locations and crime scenes. Fortunately, the narrative spends more time with the investigation, giving readers ample opportunity to connect the dots while second guessing nearly everyone’s motivations.
Despite its straightforward formula, the book’s intense action, realistic tone and memorable characters will keep readers engrossed in this popcorn thriller with a superb payoff.