An engaging courtroom tale, despite an uneven mashup of genres.

WHITE JR.'S TRIAL

In this sequel, the badly managed trial of a wealthy young lawyer for the rape and attempted murder of a former prostitute forces a reclusive attorney to return to Los Angeles.

It was a bear of a case. Not only was the accused the son of one of LA’s most respected lawyers, but there were problems with the victim’s story. After the rape, during which Kelly Luthan said she slashed White Jr. with a knife, she drove herself directly to the district attorney’s office, not stopping for any medical care. Deputy District Attorney Sarah Cartwright immediately filed charges and obtained an indictment against White Jr., even before the investigation was completed. Then she resigned from the DA’s office and went off to parts unknown. Now, the case is in the eager hands of a relative novice, Katelyn Kruz. Notwithstanding her initial court success convincing the judge to deny White Jr. bail, Katelyn is out of her depth against the legal eagles assembled by Richard White Sr. Jack Wayne, a senior member of the DA’s Sexual Assault Team, suspects his boss, a close friend of White Sr., has quietly ordered Katelyn not be given any assistance by the group’s more seasoned prosecutors. Jack meets with LA Police Department Detective Jones, the only one who knows Sarah’s whereabouts, and tells him the case will tank if she doesn’t return to help Katelyn. Augustine's (A Brush with Love, a Brush with the Law, 2014) experience as an attorney gives the courtroom proceedings some substance. The section dealing with jury selection is especially intriguing. The bulk of this romance novel/legal thriller hybrid deals with Sarah’s and Kelly’s complicated personal dramas, and some high-action danger adds unexpected excitement. Sarah and her husband, David Nolan, were introduced in the author’s debut. But Augustine is stingy with catch-up information, making it difficult for readers to assess the complicated relationships between White Jr., Sarah, Kelly, and David. In an endnote, the author coyly suggests that readers turn to the earlier book to test the accuracy of their assumptions about Sarah. Cute, but irritating.

An engaging courtroom tale, despite an uneven mashup of genres.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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