In Huebner’s debut thriller, trial lawyer Ben Lohmeier faces death and double-dealing as he fights to exonerate a friend from a murder she didn’t commit.
When Ben’s close friend Megan Rand Cavallaro is questioned by Chicago police in connection with the murder of their former law professor, Daniel Greenfield, Ben is shocked. His prosecutorial background quickly keys him in to the fact that Megan is the prime suspect. Her decision to retain Ben as counsel thrusts him into a high-profile murder investigation; Ben, who has tried only a few criminal cases as a defense lawyer, is suddenly scrutinizing a crime scene, hiring blood spatter experts, and appearing opposite an ambitious former colleague. He assembles a ragtag defense team to prepare Megan’s case, and, in order to ensure the jury doesn’t find reasonable doubt, Ben scrutinizes everyone in Daniel’s orbit as a possible suspect. His determination to find out who killed Daniel does not waver, even when he learns that Megan is keeping secrets or after he’s attacked by a thug outside his office. Fortunately, Huebner incorporates realistic details about criminal procedure into the narrative without slowing down the story. What does slow down the narrative, however, are lengthy descriptions of car trips and locations. Huebner often provides GPS-level detail about Ben’s travels; when Ben is on the hunt for a witness in Florida, the carefully constructed tension evaporates when Huebner describes Ben’s drive to a courthouse. Similarly, Huebner could significantly streamline his description of the quirky layout of Ben’s office without affecting any necessary information. Repetitive phrasing can hamper the flow of the prose, too, such as the frequent use of “you know” and repeated references to revenge as a dish “best served cold.” However, the author is so skilled at creating suspense that these flaws barely register.
Only a crotchety law school professor would give this legal thriller less than a B+.