An investigative drama about murder, police, attorneys and suspicion in rural Kentucky.
In a chilling opener that ranks among the better introductory set pieces of today’s blockbuster thrillers—courtroom and otherwise—the novel sets the mood of local tragedy without a useless word. Two young boys have been missing for a couple hours and their respective families go looking—but to no avail (unfortunately, a cantankerous drunk led the search). After calling the police, a full search is issued and the boys are found, presumably having been mutilated by the dogs that stalk the Kentucky riverbank. It’s a horrific tragedy that shakes up the entire region and is chillingly rendered by Metry. Sherriff Paul Tellis, however, isn’t willing to call it a day and begins looking for human suspects—the last thing the town or the power structure that runs the county wanted to hear. Under the direction of a classically wicked prosecutor, innuendo and suspicion of outliers leads them to the young teenage outcast Joseph Khalil, an immigrant’s son who is brilliant with computers. The young man spends much of his time online in a vicious fantasy world, taking the handle of an infamous Muslim warrior. Despite Joseph’s intelligence, his time online alienates him from common human interactions and their consequences. And despite the brilliance of his two crack lawyers, Joseph mounts his own defense, using his abilities to craft a jury of his peers, drawn from a virtual generation. Given the complex range of events and the density of the plot, readers might expect flat, eye-glazing prose, but the pacing remains quick and punchy as it transitions from courtroom to character and is generously rendered in elegant writing unusual for the genre—especially given the grim events. Yes, it hits all the typical beats, but Metry handles them so deftly that even the—in retrospect—telegraphed revelation will surprise and satisfy those who love thrillers, as this book delivers classic elements of the genre.
A traditionally plotted but craftily executed legal thriller.