Trial by Blood (Daniel Pike #3), by William Bernhardt

Eight stars

In his latest novel in the Last Chance Lawyers series, William Bernhardt pulls the reader in with an interesting situation that has two legal trials taking place simultaneously. Fourteen years ago, young Ossie Coleman disappeared after his mother’s violent death. When an eighteen year-old stumbles into town, claiming to be Ossie, he has quite the story to tell. He speaks of being held at a cabin in the woods by a ruthless man and only barely escaped. This creates quite the controversy, as the Colemans will soon be splitting the sizeable wealth of the family’s patriarch. With Ossie’s return, he is to inherit 25% of it all. Family members begin doubting the claims that this man is Ossie and the case goes to civil court. Daniel Pike is assigned the case from his mysterious boss, Mr. K, and tries to build a case to support the claim. When St. Petersburg PD are called to a local theatre, they find Harrison Coleman—Ossie’s uncle—has been murdered in a most gruesome way. To add to it, it would appear the elder Coleman has written ‘Ossie’ on the mirror when covered in condensation. Pike’s legal expertise is now going to be stretched as he tries to fight two legal battles. With evidence and doubt piling up, many within Pike’s firm hope that he will see the light and abandon the case. However, Daniel Pike is not one to shy away from a challenge and is sure that his client is being set-up, whomever he might be. When someone tries to ‘persuade’ Pike outside his boathouse, he is left clinging to life, but undeterred. Someone is pulling strings behind the scenes and trying to ensure that Pike loses everything. Entering the criminal trial with nothing to lose, Pike seeks to persuade a jury that his client is innocent, still wondering if the young man next to him is Ossie Coleman and whether his story of being a prisoner holds up. Bernhardt does a masterful job weaving together this story that will have the reader guessing and wondering until the final chapter. Recommended for those who love a good legal thriller, as well as the reader who has a long affinity for the work of William Bernhardt.

I discovered WIlliam Bernhardt many years ago and have been obsessed with this writing ever since. He can not only tell a story, but pulls on the courtroom to push the drama even further, allowing the reader to feel fully involved. Daniel Pike continues to grow in this series and has shown that his less than stellar backstory has not created too many issues in his present. His affable nature is contrasted greatly by his determination to fight for his client, no matter the obstacle. As can be seen throughout the novel, even a beating that leaves him clinging to life will not stop Pike in finding the truth and keeping his enemies at bay. Other characters, both those returning and new faces, keep the story moving along well. While I was uncertain how well the Last Chance Lawyers would work, the different personalities have meshed well and keep me wanting to know more. The story was strong, focussing on the Ossie Coleman character, and leaving the reader to wonder what happened and how that fits in with the current goings-on. The courtroom battles and legal maneuvers are wonderfully paced and keep the reader wanting to know a little more. I cannot help but find myself fully ensconced in the series and am eager to see what happens next, particularly with that stunning cliffhanger at the end!

Kudos, Mr. Bernhardt, for a great novel and an up-beat series with legal themes throughout.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: