Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review of "The Fall" by John Lescroart

In this addition to John Lescroat's Dismas Hardy series, Hardy's daughter Rebecca - all grown up and working in her dad's law firm - is lead attorney on a murder case.

The story: In San Francisco, Greg Treadway is a middle school teacher who volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for foster children. His client is Max Paulson, a black, 17-year-old high school student who lives with his Aunt Junie because his mother is a drug addict. Greg is also friendly with Max's twin sister Anlya, who lives in a group home. 

One evening, Greg stops for a beer at 'The Little Shamrock' - the bar co-owned by Dismas Hardy - and strikes up a conversation with Rebecca Hardy. Before long the TV news reports that Anlya Paulson was thrown from an overpass and is dead. Greg is horrified. He tells Rebecca he had dinner with Anlya earlier in the evening. At Dismas's urging Greg calls the police. He reports that he took Anlya to a Chinese restaurant, after which she went shopping. Turns out Greg's story has some holes and a homeless man claims he saw Greg at the scene of the crime. 

Meanwhile, activists in San Francisco have been agitating, claiming that crimes against black people aren't being vigorously investigated and prosecuted. The cops and DA feel pressured and Greg is indicted after a fast, shoddy investigation. He's quickly brought to trial and hires Rebecca to be his lawyer. Rebecca, looking for information to clear Greg, asks private investigator Wyatt Hunt to investigate. Wyatt's findings unearth possible alternative suspects. 

There are some dramatic courtroom scenes in the story and Rebecca, though inexperienced with murder cases, proves to be a skilled attorney. It's fun to see her try to poke holes in the prosecution's evidence. 

Familar characters in the series make an appearance, including Dismas's wife Frannie and DA's investigator (and former Chief of Homicide) Abe Glitsky. Various secondary characters add interest to the story, including Rebecca's roommate Ally - a brand new law school graduate who takes an interest in Greg and the trial; Anlya's mother - who can't shake her drug habit or get rid of the wrong kind of men; the police detectives who are determined to find a suspect fast; the judge, who's got his head screwed on right; and more.

There are a few twists in the story and a dramatic climax which some readers might see coming. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to mystery fans.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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