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POWER BLIND

A DANA HARGROVE LEGAL MYSTERY

An adept and timely courtroom drama.

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A judge confronts the rigors of an appellate court in this latest legal thriller in Kemanis’ series.

Dana Hargrove has come up in the world. The post-pandemic world finds Dana as an associate justice of New York City’s appellate division, meaning that she must now debate and compromise with other judges before handing down verdicts. Her current troublesome case is that of Josie Merced, a 17-year-old with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who’s been removed from her aunt’s care by Child Protective Services, who claim that the aunt has failed to provide Josie with lifesaving treatment. The case is tricky, however; it was Josie’s decision to refuse chemotherapy after seeing what it did to her late mother. Further complicating the matter is the fact that Dana’s son, Travis, is now an appellate attorney representing CPS, and his potentially career-making argument is at odds with Dana’s core beliefs. Meanwhile, Dana remains obsessed with a 2-year-old murder case in which both the victim and perpetrator are cops. Accusations of nepotism and coverup haunt the present investigation and trial, and her daughter, Natalie, a psychology grad student, is connected to one of the people involved, further muddying the waters. Can Dana maintain the objectivity that justice requires? Kemanis writes with typical elegance and control, spinning the intricacies of the law into moments of humor and drama, by turns. Here, for instance, she describes Dana’s reaction to being outvoted on the court: “She makes the effort to convince, even with those colleagues who stand firm in wet cement, daring her to watch it dry as she talks herself blue in the face.” The characters, new and old, bring with them a depth of history that lends the novel a gripping feeling of verisimilitude. With this book, Kemanis has brought Dana into roiling legal battles of the present day, dealing with issues of bodily autonomy and police violence that feel particularly urgent and timely. Dana hasn’t softened with age, and fans of the series are sure to enjoy this latest installment.

An adept and timely courtroom drama.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-7378479-0-8

Page Count: 317

Publisher: Opus Nine Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

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CITY IN RUINS

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

The dramatic conclusion to the trilogy about two New England crime families begun in City on Fire (2022) and City of Dreams (2023).

Near the end of his journey, multimillionaire Danny Ryan watches a casino implode in a mushroom cloud of dust and muses about his life’s implosions: “The cancer that killed his wife, the depression that destroyed his love, the moral rot that took his soul.” Danny is from Providence, Rhode Island, and desperately tried to leave his criminal life behind him. But using a ton of ill-gotten gains, he invests heavily in Las Vegas properties. Congress is conducting an investigation into gambling that could destroy his casino business and even land him in jail. An FBI agent plans to take Danny down for major sins he’d like to repent for. Meanwhile, can he make peace with his enemies? Nope, doesn’t look like it. Even if the parties involved want to put the past behind them, the trouble is that they don’t trust each other. Is Vern Winegard setting Dan up? Is Dan setting Vern up? “Trust? Trust is children waiting for Santa Claus.” So what could have been a “Kumbaya,” nobody-wants-to-read-this story turns into a grisly bloodletting filled with language that would set Sister Mary Margaret’s wimple on fire—figuratively speaking, as she’s not in the book. But the Catholic reference is appropriate: Two of the many colorful characters of ill repute are known as the Altar Boys, serving “Last Communion” to their victims. On the law-abiding side and out of the line of fire is an ex-nun-turned-prosecutor nicknamed Attila the Nun, who’s determined to bring justice for a gory matricide. (Rhode Island really had such a person, by the way.) Finally, the prose is just fun: A friend warns Dan about Allie Licata: “In a world of sick fucks, even the sick fucks think Licata’s a sick fuck.” A couple of things to note: This not only ends the trilogy, but it also closes out the author’s career, as he has said he’ll write no more novels.

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780063079472

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DEVLINS

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

The ne’er-do-well son of a successful Irish American family gets dragged into criminal complications that suggest the rest of the Devlins aren’t exactly the upstanding citizens they appear.

The first 35 years in the life of Thomas “TJ” Devlin have been one disappointment after another to his parents, lawyers who founded a prosperous insurance and reinsurance firm, and his more successful siblings, John and Gabby. A longtime alcoholic who’s been unemployable ever since he did time for an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Carrie’s then 2-year-old daughter, TJ is nominally an investigator for Devlin & Devlin, but everyone knows the post is a sinecure. Things change dramatically when golden-boy John tells TJ that he just killed Neil Lemaire, an accountant for D&D client Runstan Electronics. Their speedy return to the murder scene reveals no corpse, so the brothers breathe easier—until Lemaire turns up shot to death in his car. John’s way of avoiding anything that might jeopardize his status as heir apparent to D&D is to throw TJ under the bus, blaming him for everything John himself has done and adding that you can’t trust anything his brother has said since he’s fallen off the wagon. TJ, who’s maintained his sobriety a day at a time for nearly two years, feels outraged, but neither the police investigating the murder nor his nearest and dearest care about his feelings. Forget the forgettable mystery, whose solution will leave you shrugging instead of gasping, and focus on the circular firing squad of the Devlins, and you’ll have a much better time than TJ.

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780525539704

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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