The Word

The Word
ISBN: 9780692369005, Serpentine Books, an e-book by Hubert Crouch is a multi-plotted legal thriller on subjects most pertinent in today’s headlines.

Plot/Characters: Two prominently integrally woven main plots – 1) legal action against a fringe religious group led by Ezekiel Shaw, a self-centered, marginally psychopathic leader that pickets in a viciously demeaning manner, but deemed acceptable as free speech by supreme court decree, the funeral of a woman soldier killed in action fighting in Afghanistan; 2) the attempt by a new and talented reporter Leah Rosen under constant threats initiated by the lawyers to publish an article detailing fraud perpetrated by collusive activity between their law firm and an insurance company. Associated conflicts: The virtual protagonist, Jace Forman, a highly successfully profiled lawyer attempting to gain retribution for the disrespect shown the soldier, is assailed with troubles stemming from his son Matt’s belief that he was responsible for his mother’s automobile accident, and his subsequent activity; threats by his long-term and indispensable paralegal Darrin Mackenzie to leave him because of jealousy with respect to a superb woman P.I. Jackie McLaughlin important to the case; his former law firm, Hadley and Morgan, whom he left because of unfair treatment is attempting ‘payback’; as well as ‘normal’ difficulties with discovering necessary supportive evidence. Darrin’s sister Megan, with whom she has a close relationship, simultaneously is involved with marital problems disconcerting to her; Jackie also is working Leah’s case of personal threats. Numerous additional characters – Eugene and Janice Hanson, mother and father of their late-in-life only child, the dead soldier; Christine and Cal Connors, the lawyers involved in Leah’s case; Mike Randazzo, a shadowy unprincipled P.I.; Jamie Stein, an unprincipled insurance executive; Abe Levine, Leah’s boss; ‘Sister Rebecca’ and her daughter ‘Sister Mary’ (Maddy); numerous others who variously play smaller to highly significant parts in the constantly evolving complexly integrated plots and sub-plots.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author, a highly successful trial attorney, has produced one of the best legal thrillers this reader ever recalls having read. The plot/sub-plots are numerous, as are the characters but all simultaneously are so beautifully integrated that there are no ‘hitches’ whatsoever. The flow not only is smooth but fast moving as well and the characters have life. Additionally, the author has NOT fallen into the technically laden, often long-winded trap that so often catches other writers of books with legal plots. In this reviewer’s opinion, any reader who enjoys legal thrillers should NOT miss this one.

5* A MUST READ if you enjoy books with a legal theme.

 

Expired Listings

Expired Listings
An erotic Novel of Psychological Suspense”,                                           Punctuated Publishing, an e-book by D. M. Barr.

Dana Black had a brutally psychologically damaging childhood where she lost her father most tragically at 6 years of age. Following this was her mother, Cassandra, taking her older sister Melanie and moving away leaving her with her grandmother in a town literally dying from the existence of a natural disaster and insisting upon a legal name change for the child. Through the years, her mother would return for a perfunctory one day visit but never a word from or about her sister. Finally, she left for college, met Harrison, a man who appeared to be loving and introduced her to a somewhat luxurious life of sorts and adventure. She had skipped the usual sex explorations of her student days and was first introduced to sex by Harrison. Unfortunately he practiced the Kinky BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) type as well as probably suffering from Bi-polar disorder. The relationship dissolved and the reader is introduced to her as a relatively successful Real Estate salesperson working at the same office as her immensely successful sister. It further is revealed that she is in this position after being contacted by Dare, a Dominant BDSM with whom she becomes closely involved. Then suddenly, a number of Realtors are murdered and/or disappear and finally even her best friend Endicott from her college days who is a fellow realtor, is seriously injured opening Dana to become even more of a prime suspect. Dana, along with other severe reactions, is in therapy because she suffers from complete blackouts where she remembers nothing for hours at a time. If not sufficiently complicated already, the ‘plot thickens’ even more. Dare is discovered to be someone other than just her sex partner; her sister Melanie is other than just the successful realtor who hated her; her mother is extremely wealthy but suffering the results of a devastating CVA; her mother’s caring caretaker, Lorelei, becomes further involved; Grayson, Endie’s gay significant other becomes troublesome; Aidan Cummings who Dana meets at a BDSM club, is a former police detective now a PI, who is at the club for purposes other than for the expected reasons – he provides an unexpected source of help for the beleaguered Dana. The highly convoluted tale eventually unravels to terminate in a logical, albeit somewhat incredible fashion.

Discussion: Interestingly, the author opens with a Preference: “This is a satire not to be interpreted as serious regarding Realtors who have definite legal standards, although their public rating is 17%, a little above advertising executives, used car salesmen and politicians, but below lawyers.” Also included are a warning of sexual explicity and a disclaimer with respect to BDSM activity. From here the story unfolds as a provocative, highly convoluted mystery involving mostly persons on various psychologically compromised levels. The level of sexuality provided is far less explicit than that presented in most books featuring erotica and the ‘dirty tricks’ used by the realtors certainly are no different from those endlessly rumored to have been employed by members of this profession.

Conclusion: A mystery that is highly convoluted, somewhat stretches credibility, provides some mild (by many standards) deviant erotic activity but generally a story that should appeal to those who enjoy a tantalizing read.

4* Generally appealing for those enjoying a tantalizing read.