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Wednesday, April 5, 2017


4 stars out of 5

Looking for a good legal mystery? Consider giving this one a try - seriously. Top-notch young attorney Hayden McCarthy has just earned her chops by pulling off an almost unbelievable win - a feat that doesn't go unnoticed by her hoity-toity law firm. But instead of a few days on a sunny beach or a hefty bonus, her reward is being assigned to a seemingly unwinnable wrongful death case. A young Mexican boy who attempted to enter the United States illegally was caught and stashed in a government-run juvenile detention facility in Texas - where he was murdered. Now, Hayden's firm has been asked to build - and more important, at least to Hayden's future career, win - a case against the government.

Add to the mix Hayden's roommate, who just happens to have a very hunky and eligible cousin named Andrew Wesley. And he just happens to be the son of an ambitious congressman. It goes without saying that Hayden and Andrew are wary of but attracted to each other. But even though Andrew claims to eschew his father's chosen profession of service to America, the fact that Hayden is going head-to-head with the government isn't exactly a relationship booster. 

Tracking down the facts she'll need to build her case takes Hayden from her job in Washington, D.C., to Texas and back - with plenty of dangerous turns in between. Although almost none of it takes place in a courtroom, there's plenty of action and legal details as Hayden tries to ferret out the truth.

So we have likable, well-developed characters, a story that's intriguing, timely (immigration) and believable. So what was missing? Although I certainly should have known, I failed to pick up ahead of time on the fact that this book falls into the Christian category - and there few things in this life I do not want to read about more than someone's religious "journey."

But wait, there's more.

Other than one horrific moment when I was convinced the book would end with Andrew's asking Hayden to marry him only if she agreed to quit the high-profile job she loves and stay home to be a proper mother to their kids, matters of faith were for the most part unobtrusive. In fact, what few references there were seemed to be inserted haphazardly, almost as an afterthought, sometimes where they really didn't seem to fit. It was almost as if someone said, "Oops, God hasn't had a mention in 50 pages - better throw one in!" 

And somehow, it strikes me that a "Christian" book should have more on that subject (or at least what was there should have been more fully developed). Ironic, isn't it, that the biggest downside (a mild one, I hasten to add) is that there wasn't enough of what I didn't want to read in the first place? But there it is.

That said, this is a very enjoyable book that's well worth reading no matter what side of the religion coin you're on. Many thanks to the publisher (via NetGalley) for providing me with an advance review copy.

Beyond Justice by Cara C. Putman (Thomas Nelson, April 2017); 384 pp.

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