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.