First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Scott Pratt, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.
In this stand-alone legal thriller, Pratt brings as much gusto as can be found in his popular Joe Dillard series. Darren Street is a compassionate criminal defence attorney, as oxymoronic as that may sound. He fights for the little guy and will not permit injustice to permeate an already jaded society. As Pratt opens the novel, Street is in the midst of fighting for his uncle’s release after a lengthy time in prison for a crime he did not commit. In vacating the conviction, Street makes a major enemy with the D.A., who is hellbent on exacting some form of revenge. After Street meets with a potential client, he discovers a man who is flippant about his potential role in a double murder of two young boys and refuses to defend him. This refusal has consequences and Street is faced with threats against his son. Reacting in a paternal knee-jerk fashion, Street approaches one of his former clients to ‘handle the situation’, but rescinds the request after his conscience wins out. Unfortunately, the wheels have already started turning and the former D.A. is now working for the US Attorney’s office, ready to find a way to corner Street and put him away. When the potential child killer’s body is found and the evidence points to Street, there is no hope for justice, even as the determined lawyer works with a young but passionate attorney to clear his name. Street is sent away for a crime he did not commit, with little hope of ever getting out. In this stunning novel, Pratt pushes the legal system to its limits and leaves the reader wondering if Darren Street will be yet another number in the US Penal system sporting shades of orange for the rest of his existence. Not to be missed by Dillard fans and those who enjoy a legal thriller.
I have been a Pratt fan for a long time and always enjoyed his Joe Dillard novels. Even though this is a break from the well-tuned series, any reader familiar with Pratt’s style will find that the setting (Tennessee) and the genre (courtroom thriller) fit perfectly. In this novel, Pratt looks less at the courtroom as the final setting, with a crime and a trial planning build-up. Instead, the reader is treated to the injustice that some of those with the backing of the government have over the accused and how, with the right evidence and power of persuasion, they can bring about a jaded form of justice. Pratt takes the reader inside the penal system and gives his own view of incarceration, as well as the slow pace at which any legal matters of convicted felons can move, all while exemplifying the horrendous treatment that takes place. While it is not told in a soapbox fashion, Pratt does not hide the cynicism he has for the System and how it is easy to get lost when facing the Goliath known as the US Government. Peppered with humour, despair, and the smallest hint of romance, Pratt pulls his readers in and will not let them go as he seeks to find justice in a jaded system, whereby the little guy can get his proverbial day in court. Excellent character and dialogue usage to propel the story and keep things fresh throughout, Pratt shows that he can work outside the Joe Dillard parameters with which he is very comfortable.
Kudos, Mr. Pratt for this wonderfully crafted novel that does not wane and seeks to pile on more twists to keep the reader intrigued.