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Sunday, April 19, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Legal and medical thrillers always top my list of favorites, most often in that order. So when I got an email from eReader Cafe early this month informing me that this one - the first in a series featuring attorney Sasha McCandless - at no cost, I read the description and took the plunge. Worst case, I told myself, it will cost nothing to find out I don't like it; but on the other hand, it could open up the door to a solid series.

Now that I've finished it, I'm happy to report the best-case scenario won out, and I've added the rest of the books in the series to my want-to-read list. 

I must admit, though, that part of the attraction is the Pittsburgh connection. While I'll never be a Steelers fan (go Browns!), we live about 15 minutes west of the Pennsylvania border and have more than a nodding acquaintance with the city and its attractions, many of which are mentioned here. My taste buds kicked into high gear just thinking about one of those all-inclusive Primanti Brothers sandwiches (meat of choice topped with slaw and fries). Now that they're branching out, in fact, we'll be enjoying a new location closer to home in Boardman Township, Ohio, sometime this fall - although to my mind, at least, the satellite locations never will have the cachet of the original that's been going strong in Pittsburgh's Strip District since 1933.

This story begins with the crash of an airplane into a mountain, killing everyone on board.  Because the airline is a client of her successful and hoity toity law firm, Sasha, who is close to making partner, is tapped to be one of the lead attorneys who will defend the lawsuits that no doubt will follow. But early on, she begins to suspect the crash wasn't an accident; rather, some kind of device was installed on the plane that allows remote control from a smart phone.

Enter a federal air marshal (a relatively attractive single guy, naturally), who's investigating the disaster from a different standpoint. When they learn that a second plane crash is about to happen, they must dive full-on into finding out who's responsible and prevent another disaster. Meantime, Sasha's supervisor at the law firm - the one who heads up the client's legal team - meets an untimely (and suspicious) end, thus putting Sasha in full charge of the investigation. Things turn ugly when the bad guys realize full-on that Sasha and her air marshal buddy are getting too close; all I'll say about that is that it's a good thing she's well trained in a particularly effective defensive form of martial arts.

The book moves along quickly (I read it over the space of two days in spare time), but I'll point out that there's quite a bit of discussion of the ins and outs of legal procedure (which is of considerable interest to me but might be a bit of a drag for other readers) as well as detailed descriptions of Sasha's martial arts moves (interesting to me not so much). Also, it's important to keep in mind that this is a novel. Believing that some of the things described here could happen in the real world - among them installation of a device on an airliner that isn't detected at some point in the inspection process, that a barely 5-foot tall woman could overpower two gigantic thugs in seconds and end up with no serious injuries and that Sasha's air marshal seems to be the only one from the feds who is investigating the airplane crash - is a stretch. 

Overall, though, this is a solid debut novel in the series, and as I said before, I'm now up for finding out what happens in the next one (Inadvertent Disclosure). Stay tuned!

Irreparable Harm by Melissa F. Miller (Brown Street Books, April 2011); 456 pp.

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