Dying for Justice, a mystery with romance overtones, copyright and written by Pauline Isaksen.
Plot/Characters: A prologue describes how sixteen-year-old Michael Bradley happened to kill the top candidate for the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer as he was hunting with Michael’s father on the Bradley’s spacious estate. He swears he shot at a deer, but no tracks could be found and he is charged with criminal negligence. Beautiful Julia Ainsworth did not follow her Nigerian born mother Elizabeth’s passion for art but studied law instead. Perhaps because Elizabeth apparently had little artistic talent other than recognizing it or more probably because Julia and her father became much closer after her mother’s death. Julia now is a lawyer in her father Jack’s prestigious London law firm. Unfortunately, he has become quite heavily involved in politics that is taking much of his time so he asks Julia to defend the boy as he is the son of his close friends Tom and Nicole. Julia, on visits with Tom and Nicole and then with Michael, uses a desktop device that contained a “Stress Detector Analysis Program” which “…was able to identify various types of stress levels, cognitive processes and emotional reactions.” The program is one suggested by Julia’s long-time friend Danny, who has a rather inexplicable relationship with various ‘dark’ groups. He suggests she consult with his good friend Chris, who is most knowledgeable in interpreting these programs, Chris is a former governmental operative now working in the private sector, handsome, recently divorced and the loving father of two very young children. He confirms her suspicion of Michael’s innocence, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion. Therefore, the boy enters a guilty plea which for several cogent reasons will reduce his sentence to a matter of little more than one and one half years of incarceration. She still cannot accept his confinement and continues her attempts to find an answer to the puzzling situation. As a number of most unusual clues emerge she comes closer to the truth, attempts are made on her life and her father urges her to leave the case alone. She continues, more clues are discovered, relationships are established, devastating revelations made and startling actions taken that provide an end result that many readers will not expect.
Discussion: The author has written an enjoyable first novel. The plot is interesting in the twists provided and the pace and verbalization good. There are a few features that could make the story a little more enjoyable, at least from this reader’s perspective. Most prominent was attempting to empathize with any of the characters. Danny and his relationship with members of the Ainsworth family had no explanation. Similarly that of Chris and his ex-wife, and both with Danny and the explosive reaction by Chris. Further, a loving relationship between Chris and Julia developed really only because it seemed reasonable; i.e. they were provided with little help and even Julia and some of her thought processes, reactions and emotions were marginal. Another basically disquieting feature is the description of the hunting incident – relationship of prologue as descried with respect to preparation, persons involved and the subsequent material – all are difficult to resolve for anyone who has hunted,
However to reiterate, the author has written an enjoyable book. The comments offered here simply are suggestions that this reader believes will provide more fully developed tales in the future.
3* 4* first endeavor; 3* as explained.