Indefensible, by Lee Goodman

Seven stars

In his debut novel, Lee Goodman offers the reader some interesting insights into Nick Davis, Assistant US Attorney. In the opening pages, the reader is parachuted into the middle of an investigation into one of Davis’s cases where a young man is found dead and buried in a shallow grave. Davis finds himself drawn to the eyewitness that offered a description that could lead to a solid arrest, though his precocious, teenage daughter, Lizzy, offers her own insight into this pairing. As the story progresses, Davis recounts some of the skeletons in his closet, including an ex-wife and a child who died in infancy, both of which shape his outlook on life. An accomplice to the original victim’s murder and the aforementioned eyewitness both turn up dead, forcing Davis to question whether there is a leak in his office and someone is trying to silence all potential witnesses. With a drug dealer at the centre of the murder investigation, he commences stalking Davis and making threats against Lizzy, only heightening concerns within the US Attorney’s Office as they try to capture him and deal with his less than cooperative attorney. While on the lam, the dealer is gunned down as well, opening a chasm with Davis at the centre of the mess with a strong motive to kill. All evidence points to him, leaving him forced to clear his own name as well as find the real killer before it’s too late. As Davis struggles with the case, he soon discovers that the leak might be closer to him than he first thought, forcing him to come to terms with the preconceived notions he has let guide him over the past several months. In this curiously complex legal thriller, Goodman offers readers a wonderful introduction into his writing and the life of Nick Davis. Worth a reading for those looking to think alongside absorb a legal thriller.

I first stumbled across Goodman and the Nick Davis series last summer when I was offered an advanced copy of the second book. In reading that novel, I pondered not only the cast of characters who developed on the page, but also the thorough backstory that Goodman offered. Reading this novel, I am left with some of the same sentiments; that much could have been written before this novel, as Goodman offers hints at many storylines and character branch-offs. The succinct narration that keeps the reader pushing forward and demanding more, while also offering a hint at the unspoken plots that might have shaped Davis’s younger years. Goodman knows his audience and is able to plant significant amounts of drama as well as some off-hand humour to keep the reader from straying. While not courtroom-based, I enjoyed what Goodman had to offer and can only hope there will be more Nick Davis in the years to come.

Kudos, Mr. Goodman for an interesting beginning to the Nick Davis saga. One can hope the critics are as pleased as I was with this effort.