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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


4 stars out of 5

As I've said in other reviews, I'm always looking for a good mystery/thriller series - one in which the stories are good enough that I'm happy to read them any time, but mostly to fill in gaps between other books - when I need something dependably enjoyable and easy to read. As luck would have it, I've found two winners in that department over the last couple of weeks - this one included.

I keep a running list of free and low-cost books I've downloaded as a result of membership in services like BookBub that specialize in that kind of thing; I cross them off as I read them and try not to get too far behind. This one, though, managed to slip through the cracks; I got it free back in 2013 and it's been stuck in the middle of my list ever since. When I noticed it's a legal thriller, it got my attention; when I learned it's the first in a series featuring criminal defense attorney Joe Dillard, I couldn't wait to get started.

I finished it in short order, picking it up every chance I got just because the story and characters reeled me in from the beginning. Set in Tennessee, it begins with the murder of a preacher (a cat brings part of the guy to his mistress as a gift, adding a touch of grisly to the murder). The preacher, it seems, had visited a bar known for its "girls," and one of them - a pretty young thing - is accused of the murder. The bar owner, herself a shady character, is rolling in dough and hires Joe to defend the girl.

Joe, however, is beyond ready to stop doing what he's been doing; his mother has Alzheimer's and is failing fast, and his estranged sister is a drug addict who's just been released from prison. On the plus side, he's got a loving wife, a former dance instructor who now helps out in his office, a couple of kids who seem more "normal" than my own two, and a excitable dog who pees on his master's shoe with regularity.

As Joe reaches a birthday, his only wish is to defend just one client who is innocent. As the story unfolds, it appears this young girl may make his wish come true. But haven't we all been advised to be careful what we wish for? 

There are some twists and turns and even more lawyers and judges who try to bend the law when it suits their purposes. The chapters shift from first-person accounts as told by Joe to third-person descriptions of what happened, is happening and may happen down the line. I won't say I was surprised at any point - much of the book is for the most part predictable - but the writing is solid and the story well thought out with insights into the legal process (a tribute, I assume, to the fact that the author holds degrees in both English and law). And yes, if you're asking, I plan to get my hands on the rest of the series, starting with the second, In Good Faith, as soon as I can.

An Innocent Client by Scott Pratt (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, October 2012, a re-release); 360 pp.

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