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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


3-1/2 stars out of 5

I got this one free from eBook Impresario several months ago - based on the description (which sounded right up my alley), the relatively large number of 5-star ratings at and the reported fact that it was a No. 1 bestseller in the United States and United Kingdom.

And make no mistake, it's a decent book; the story moves along quickly, stays interesting most of the way and I was eager to pick it back up after life's other tasks forced me to stop for a while. But on the other side of the review coin, it's somewhat predictable, more than a little bit contrived and the rush to the finish line, so to speak, was more like a mad sprint.

It begins when newbie attorney Teddy Mack, who wants nothing to do with criminal law in part because of his family history, is ordered by his boss to take the lead in his firm's defense of a man who's been charged with a gruesome murder. The task, it seems, is to get a plea bargain that takes the death penalty off the table and allows the mentally challenged defendant to get professional help (and, in the process, get the whole thing swept under the rug).

Although he really doesn't "get" it, Teddy adopts the "ours is not to reason why" philosophy that will keep his paychecks coming so he can pay down his student loans from law school. But then, a grisly murder of another woman - one who physically resembles the first - is discovered, and Teddy's client is believed to be responsible for that one as well. On top of that, the prosecutor is a hard-driving, take-no prisoners criminal attorney who's practically a shoe-in to become the city's next mayor.

As the facts (and still other murders) emerge, Teddy begins to question his client's guilt - but others question why Teddy is confused. That's when some of the contrived situations begin to pop up - as well as the "You're kidding, right?" incidents such as when Teddy inserts a disc in someone else's computer and, in doing so, "copied it to his hard drive" (or so the book claims). Um, no, I unless there's some technology out there of which I'm not aware, I think he'll need to put the disc to which the information was copied into his own computer before that can happen. In the end, all of that added up to result in a slightly lower score - but if you're looking for a quick, relatively interesting thriller, you can do a lot worse.

The Dead Room by Robert Ellis (Amazon Digital Services Inc.); 416 pp.

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