Mystic Wind (Jack Marino #1), by James Barretto

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, James Barretto, andOceanview Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When I noticed an ARC for this novel, I was intrigued to see if James Barretto could pen as stellar a legal thriller as the dust jacket blurb would have me believe. I was pleased to see how strong his story turned out to be, set in the early 1980s, but not lacking any of the great development found in more modern novels. Gritty and full of great legal drama, Barretto knows his stuff and has me curious to see where things are headed next.

Jack Marino had been enjoying working within the DA’s office as one of the star ADAs. However, after being attacked one night, he becomes a liability to his boss and is summarily fired. But, not before he attends a murder scene of a gruesome killing, where a man was shot, but no witnesses have come forward.

Two years on, Marino has found a place in corporate law, but is convinced by a judge to take a case of a defendant who spouts his innocence, even as the state is keen to put him away for life. This case is a hot potato, particularly because an immunized witness pointed the finger at the newly accused, a single father who has no forensic ties to the crime scene whatsoever. It also happens to be the case he attending on the day of his dismissal two years before. Is the new DA trying to make a name for himself and using a witness who cannot be prosecuted to spew falsehoods just to ensure a conviction?

As the pre-trial motions are coming to a close, Marino is blindsided when the prosecution files for the death penalty, forcing Marino to pull out every legal trick he can manoeuvre. With a judge who is anything but affable and a DA who is trying to secure election as governor, hoping to use this case as a show of law & order, Marino will have to be magical and keep the jury on his side for as long as possible. A brilliant series debut by James Barretto that should be noted by those who love a great legal thriller.

I love legal books, fiction and non-fiction alike. It’s the nuances of the law and how lawyers are able to make it work in their favour that has always interested me. James Barretto does a wonderful job at putting the law front and centre in this piece, using legal tactics and straightforward courtroom arguments throughout. The themes are strong and push the story along, which keeps the reader wondering how things will turn out when the foreman rises to deliver the verdict. I am eager to see how things progress with this series, as there is something about Barretto that has me thinking there is more to come and things won’t lessen in intensity.

Barretto offers a stellar narrative that keeps the flow moving forward with each passing chapter. Short chapters do not allow the reader to get complacent, as there is so I much to see and do throughout this book. Characters are plentiful, though the core ones do their jobs effectively, keeping the reader wanting to know more as the story progresses. Legal thrillers tend to have good plot twists, if done correctly, and Barretto knows his stuff in this regard. I’m ready for more and hope the wait is not too long!

Kudos, Mr. Barretto, for a stellar legal thriller. I am curious to see what else you have in store for your series and will keep an eye out.