I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.
A debut novel which follows the final case for Janet Moodie, a death row appeals attorney who is looking to reduce the sentence of a man who raped and killed two women. Living a secluded life in the country with her dog for company, this case will leave her searching for answers to questions that were never asked and looking into a family that have more to hide than most.
This book intrigued me from the beginning. Most of the crime books I read are detectives investigating in scenarios where they have unlimited resources available to them. Janet has a computer and the help from a friend Dave, an investigator hired by the same lawyer as Janet to do any leg work. Together they sift through old witness reports and try to find people who are still alive to re-interview and see if they can bring forward new evidence that was missed. And they do all of this for Andy. A man with a death sentence for a crime he committed with his brother, Emory, who was charged with the same crime however he only got life in prison. From the beginning Janet realises that Andy could not have been the ringleader that the police have made him out to be; with a low IQ coupled with Emory’s dominant personality he was simply dragged along for the ride. Or was he? Janet’s search into their upbringing and family brings about a change of events that shaped those fateful nights.
One of the things I loved about this novel was that it looked into what makes a person, and are people born evil? It is clear from Janet and Dave’s research and interview’s that Andy is not a “bad” person, his circumstances and experiences moulded him. The same can be said for Emory although his actions, as we learn, a far more deadly than we are first led to believe. This of course does not excuse their actions, which Janet states clearly throughout, but it is something that needs to be taken into consideration when trying people for certain crimes.
Another positive for me was the pacing of the novel. In some paragraphs and pages nothing happens because nothing can be done at that point of the appeal. Time passes within the novel giving a sense of realism into the justice system and how quickly -or slowly might be more appropriate- appeals are processed. Most crime books conclude a few days later in a blazing shoot out leaving one of the main characters worrying about the other. Not this one. The ending was calm and ordered as the novel had been up to that point.
There was no love interest within this novel. Janet is a recent widow and is trying to piece her life together again. This meant that the focus was completely on the case and how Janet is coping and the different actions that need to be taken within her life while trying to help others. Having so much focus on the case meant that I learnt new things about the American justice system and the different processes that take place in an appeal without being distracted by the characters feelings towards one another. It was very well done.
To conclude, I loved the novel. It is a breath of fresh air in what can be a very repetitive genre. The conclusion was everything I had hoped it would be after reading it and the only ending that could have taken place.
This book is available to buy now.