5 stars out of 5
After reading just two books by Robert Dugoni, I've become a fan; so when I got the chance to read an advance copy of this one in exchange for an honest review, I jumped. It's a standalone that's not part of either his Tracy Crosswhite or David Sloane series, though, so I crossed my fingers that my high expectations would be justified.
They were uncrossed by the end of the first chapter; when I got near the end, they were holding my Kindle so tightly that no one could possibly pry it out of my hands until I finished. Not that it's a problem at our house; the only other person here is my sweet hubby of 54 years, and he knows better than to try, bless his heart.
The story begins when a teenage boy is found murdered in a shelter for boys. Father Thomas Martin, the priest who found him - who runs the facility in a run-down, dangerous part of San Francisco - is charged with the murder. As a friend of the local Diocese, attorney Peter Donley's uncle Lou, for whom he's been working for the past three years, asks him to look into the situation. Evidence that may have been obtained illegally, a priest who vehemently refuses to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence and his uncle's sudden health crisis prompt Peter to take the case even though he's not totally convinced of Father Tom's innocence.
Peter has a wife and young son and is debating whether to move on to a job with more money and more potential for career advancement. But for now he's got a client, and with that comes an obligation to follow the 7th Canon from the American Bar Association Code: "A lawyer should represent a client zealously within the bounds of the law." So, he begins to prepare a defense; and the more he delves into the lives of the priest, the victim and a hell-bent for power district attorney, the more convinced he becomes that his client isn't a killer. Proving it, though, won't be easy; ultimately, the only way to clear the priest's name may be to find the real killer - and that could mean putting his own life in danger.
Early on, I said this book is a standalone; but honestly, I'd be very happy to see the "good guys" again. The characters are both likable and capable, and the potential for a new series stuck in my thoughts throughout. How about it, Mr. Dugoni? I'm ready if you are!
The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer, September 2016); 334 pp.