Saturday, April 28, 2012

DEFENDING JACOB a Troubling Legal Mystery

Defending Jacob by William Landay is both an engrossing legal mystery and a troubled picture of a family cracking apart under the stress of a murder indictment against one of its members.

Andy Barber is an Assistant D.A. who is taken off a sensational murder case when his own teenage son, Jacob, becomes a prime suspect. One of Jacob's classmates is murdered in a local park. Evidence uncovered leads to Jacob's arrest and trial for the killing. Jacob insists he is innocent.

Andy Barber and his wife, Laurie, support their son even as the family become despised outcasts in their own community. But as the Barbers endure the trial testimony, they are forced toward a stark choice: either Jacob is entirely innocent, or their son is a deceptive, emotionless sociopath.

Defending Jacob is a compelling, disturbing read with a hideous twist at the end. Rich in character, the novel is a moral mystery with no comfortable answer.

BEACH RATING:  4 Palm Trees

Sunday, April 15, 2012

THE EXPATS An Intriguing Tangle of Deception

The new mystery The Expats by Chris Pavone is an intriguing and surprising tangle of a married couple's lies and deceptions in their jobs and with each other.

Kate Moore is a retired CIA agent whose husband, Dexter, never knew about the sometimes violent kind of work that she did. Dexter himself is a high-tech bank security consultant, or at least that's what Kate thinks he is. The couple has recently relocated to Luxembourg for Dexter's work, and joined the American expatriate community there.

But while Kate hides her own secrets, she begins to suspect that Dexter may be hiding things of his own. When a new couple, the Macleans, arrive and seem to be keeping Kate and Dexter under surveillance, alarm bells go off in Kate's head. Could the Macleans be there after her, or is it her husband?

The plot is full of unexpected twists as each layer of lies is peeled away one by one. The Expats is an inventive mystery set within the borders of a marriage and played out against an international backdrop.

BEACH RATING: 4 Palm Trees