Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Reviews, Anyone?

Instead of focusing on my books and writing this week, I’d like to talk about other writers’ novels. I read and review as many books as possible year, though I’m not a fast reader. I read every book from beginning to end, whether I like the content or not, and always look to find something positive. Here’s a couple of books I really liked:

Sign of the Cross by Anne Emery

Attorney Montague (Monty) Collins has the client from hell in Father Brennan Burke. The priest is surly, cynical, secretive, arrogant, and Monty has to stop him from being sent to prison on two first-degree murder charges. Father Burke insists someone’s framing him, but as Monty investigates, he begins to have doubts. Regardless of Burke’s guilt or innocence, Monty knows defending this man will be enormously difficult. Adding to Monty’s stress is an unsettled personal life as he and his ex-wife Maura try to remain civil to one another for their children’s sake. Maura also happens to be an excellent lawyer and Monty needs her help. That she and the irritating Brennan seem to hit it off only irks Monty further.

What can I say about Sign of the Cross but wow! This book is everything I look for in a mystery: memorable, well-developed characters, a compelling plot, and great writing. Tension flowed through every page with mounting suspense. That author Anne Emery clearly knows Catholicism, lawyers, and court proceedings, all adds up to one amazing legal thriller that I couldn’t put down. There is so much depth to this mystery, so much to think about, and such a satisfying ending that I really wanted their stories to continue. Happily, Emery has another Monty Collins’ novel called Obit. I can’t wait.

Wrongful Death by Robert Dugoni

With a string of court wins under his belt, attorney David Sloane has no interest in taking on what he knows is Beverly Ford’s no-win case, until she tells him her story. Beverly wants to sue the U.S. government for her husband’s wrongful death in Iraq. Beverly claims that if the government had provided enough ceramic-plate body armor for soldiers, her husband James might have lived when he and his team were ambushed. Sloane, a former soldier and new family man himself, has sympathy for Ford who’s trying to support four children, so he asks a few questions on her behalf. The answers are not satisfactory. When two more national guardsmen, who’d been with James when he died, recently die on home soil, Sloane begins to think something is terribly wrong. And so begins a riveting legal/political mystery.

Not only did this page-turner give me a glimpse into what American soldiers have gone through in Iraq, but I learned a lot about the obstacles for families who believe they’ve been wronged by their government. As a Canadian, I imagine this is a hot-button issue in the U.S., and while some fairly detailed discussions ensued in the book about real legal decisions regarding military personnel, I was completely captivated. The subplots were just as intense as Sloane and his friends struggle to protect his wife and step-son. This was one terrific read by an author I’d never read before, but certainly will again. Well done.

If you’d like to read more of my reviews go to

As always, my amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

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