Burke’s (The Paradiso Files, 2008) true-crime drama depicts the trials of three different women, each of whom endured a tragic loss.
The author’s decision to leave his job as a Boston assistant district attorney is put on hold when he learns about Holly Robins, the victim of a brutal rape. With the encouragement of Boston Police Detective Reggie Rose, he decides to take on one last case before moving to private practice. After that case is concluded, he finds he’s unable to escape “the recurring presence of murder and rape, death and violence in its worst forms.” The very first private-practice case he accepts is that of Ruth, a frail black woman whose beloved teenage son Lonnie died in Boston Children’s Hospital from a fatal reaction to prescribed medication. He also tackles the case of Deirdre Griffiths, the wife of a police officer who wants to sue the owners of a Dorchester building where he was shot and killed. Each woman affects Burke profoundly, and he’s inspired by their fortitude and courage in the face of adversity. He also discusses several secondary cases, and although they may interest fans of courtroom drama, they also diffuse the story’s focus. The trials’ outcomes also aren’t always immediately revealed, and this delayed gratification may frustrate some readers. That said, Burke’s prose is affable and clear, even if descriptions of courtroom particulars occasionally impede the otherwise brisk plot. The theme of fate, contrasted with the random violence Burke sees regularly, is central to the story. While some readers may feel that the author’s frequent ruminations border on sentimentalism, others may embrace his sense of perspective on horrific events.
Fans of legal thrillers and true-crime stories will likely enjoy this ride.