“Why is Lady Justice blindfolded?”
In Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Linda S. Prather creates a world where the rich and powerful operate above the law with impunity. Greed, corruption, and murder are par for the course. People, even family, are as dispensable as last year’s cashmere sweater, and can be eliminated when they start talking too much or become useless or burdensome.
Jenna James, a morally upright up-and-coming district attorney in a Texas office that is a hotbed of corruption, is involved in an unsatisfying relationship with Michael Elkins, the son of of a powerful and feared judge. When she is called upon to look into the suspicious death of the judge’s wife (at the request of Judge Elkins’ other son, who had been imprisoned) the obstacles become higher and higher. The situation spirals out of control and the death toll rises. it seems the “bay guys’ have all the power, and needless to say, Jenna’s faith in the justice system is irreversibly altered and she no longer knows whom to trust.
Ms. Prather creates some terrific characters. The judge and his sexually aggressive son are pure evil, Jordan Elkins is the furious “black sheep” son who will challenge his father and brother to get justice for his mother. Jenna is the brave DA who refuses to back down. In fact, the deaths of a few people close to her only fuels her rage and determination. Clifford Beaumont, although not above using coercive tactics, is portrayed as a family man who cares more about protecting his family than about wealth and prestige. Marcus Dade, an irritable defense attorney for the rich and powerful, seems to have an agenda of his own (though what that agenda is is not made entirely clear). David Garcia, the district attorney who is dying of cancer, who, at the end of his life, repents of the times he got sucked into the corruptive schemes. And the various henchmen hired to do odd jobs for them, such as Drago, Gregory, and two unidentified terrorists hired to detonate a bomb. There are also characters on the side of good, such as the butt-kicking Loki and her team. However, my favorite characters are the hilarious, dynamic Jake and Harry, two police officers hired to watch Jenna when it becomes clear her life is in danger. They provide comic relief in an otherwise serious novel, and I hope they are back in the sequel.
As far as the plot, it starts a little slow, but soon picks up, and when it does, the reader is hooked. A few concerns I had were the mention of a supposedly accidental killing that Michael committed when he was a teenager (of someone hinted to be a prostitute) that never went anywhere (I’m more forgiving of loose ends like this when a book is first of a series). Also, the whole shooting at the airport scene is a little strange. Someone is shot in an airport, police gun down the “shooter” and the real shooter gives his target a flesh wound and somehow escapes with his victims in tow? I think I misunderstood this scene. Otherwise, security at this airport is extremely incompetent and lax. All writers have to take fictional liberties to move along the plot, but I felt this particular scene could have been better handled. Otherwise, although the plot is a tad predictable and cliched (most pure crime thrillers are-no offense intended to the writer), it is well-written, fast paced, and keeps you hooked to the end.
No issues that I saw with grammar, stylistics, or formatting.
To summarize, I give an A+ for characterization, an A- for plot flow, and a B+ for plot development. Well worth a read if you enjoy a fast-actioned crime thriller. I am looking forward to the sequel.
To buy: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Reasonable-Doubt-Jenna-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B00VAWBMJA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1433694087&sr=1-1&keywords=beyond+a+reasonable+doubt