The Privilege (Joseph Antonelli #9), by D.W. Buffa

Seven stars

D.W. Buffa is back with another legal thriller, sure to pique the brain of those who have followed the Joseph Antonelli series with any regularity. While there is a great deal of courtroom drama, the bulk of the book also tackles legal and societal theory, both looking deep into the past and towards the future. Buffa take the reader on quite the journey, at times getting a little preachy and esoteric. Some who can see through this can enjoy another legal thriller, but I worry many will get lost in the minutiae of the discussions, which might sour them to the overall experience.

Joseph Antonelli has quite the reputation in the legal world, both within San Francisco and elsewhere. He’s never lost a case that was his to win and has few ticks in that unfortunate box at all. His latest client, Justin Friedrich, will soon be convicted for a crime he did not commit. All the evidence points to Friedrich shooting his wife aboard their yacht and it’s almost time to end proceedings. However, someone soon approaches Antonelli with an offer.

James Michael Redfield runs a tech company with experience in artificial intelligence. When Redfield speaks privately with Antonelli, they enter into a loose lawyer-client relationship, complete with retainer. The privilege from this transaction forbids Antonelli from speaking about what comes next, as Redfield hands over the gun and a receipt to prove Friedrich’s innocence. What could Redfield want and why did he wait so long to exonerate an innocent man? Antonelli is eager to discover this, though is sworn to secrecy, under the privilege requirement.

When another high-profile murder occurs on a university campus, Antonelli is pulled into the middle of it and is again defending an innocent person, with Redfield working in the background and promising that he can solve it all, in due time. Antonelli is unsure of the web in which he finds himself and can only imagine that he’s a pawn in a larger game. While the privilege will not protect any future crimes, Redfield has said nothing conclusive and is still using the privilege to keep Antonelli on a short leash.

As the legal manoeuvrings continue, Antonelli tries to see what Redfield is doing and the sort of game he finds necessary. It seems that the trial is the thing that Redfield wants most, the situation that helps prove his larger theory, which has ties to artificial intelligence. Antonelli wants no part of it, but is as much a victim of it all as those he represents to ensure justice. A complex story that shows Buffa has layers to his meanings. Perhaps a little too much for many, though.

While I have loved D.W. Buffa’s writing and all he stands for, his legal thrillers are surely the best of all his books. That being said, he usually uses the courtroom as a stage and shows the wonders of the law through the interaction of both sides and the jury as a central arbiter. This novel took things away from those actors and left the reader to ponder the Socratic methods of law, justice, and philosophy. While it was intriguing to get to the root of it all, things could likely have taken less of a dense road to success.

Joseph Antonelli is still a masterful character and shows his abilities throughout this piece with ease. However, there was something that seemed lost, as much of his magic was not convincing a jury of his client’s innocence, but rather swimming in the complexities of legal theory, philosophy, and being stuck in a madman’s web. Antonelli does well when he can see forward, but there’s something impeding him throughout this book, which lessens his impact overall.

While I like a book that makes me think, I believe Buffa went a little too far here, perhaps forcing series fans to dig through what they are using to finding in order to discover the legal gems they seek. Those who pick this book up out of the blue (I have never understood those who do not start a series at the beginning) will likely be lost and really lose interest before long. It’s too bad, as Buffa has much to offer, with longe and detailed chapters that accompany a strong narrative. However, I can see the density being a turn off for some. I persisted, mainly because I know the power of a Buffa novel. I am not sure many would have the same fortitude and this novel was not a true reflection of the rest of the series.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for one of your thinking novels. I appreciated many of the life lessons you offered, even if things were a little much at times.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Hillary (Senator Bobby Hart #3), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

Always one for a great novel of political thrills and criminal intrigue, I turned again to the work of D.W. Buffa and his short Senator Bobby Hart series. While I loved the first book, I was not able to get hold of the second, forcing me to fill in some blanks as I pushed through into this, what appears to be the last for the time being. President of the United States (POTUS) Robert Constable has quite the way with women, so it is not entirely shocking that he would die of a heart attack when in bed with a prostitute. The Secret Service agent on the scene quickly whisked the hysterical woman out of the hotel room and secured the scene. The world mourns and an elaborate funeral takes place, though the First Lady, Hillary Constable, appears detached and dry-eyed. When Senator Booby Hart is summoned to speak with her at the reception, he is told that this was no heart attack and that Constable was murdered. The First Lady delivers the news stoically, but also wants to know who might have targeted her husband. While Hart begins to make some inquiries, he also learns that a New York Times reporter was set to meet POTUS the following day and had hoped to discuss The Four Sisters. As Hart soon learns, The Four Sisters is a highly complex financial company based out of France, with a reach far larger than it appears, through a series of shell companies. Hart and the reporter, working separately, learn just how high things go and that POTUS might be guilty of some foreign influence at the core of the Administration’s contract allocations. When numerous men with information on The Four Sisters turn up dead, Hart can only wonder what sort of cover-up is taking place. Travelling to the core of the matter might be his only hope, but he, too, could be a target to keep him quiet and smear his career, all while the country prepares to look towards the next election, with Hillary Constable poised to make her own run for the Oval Office. A sharp thriller that keeps the story moving swiftly throughout. Recommended to those who love a mix of politics with their crime thrillers, as well as the reader who has a passion for the work of D.W. Buffa.

I always find such pleasure when I am able to get my hands on another Buffa novel, though some around me cannot help but roll their eyes as I slide into my faux-Southern accent and express happiness. Senator Bobby Hart is back, ready to help where he can, even if it means putting himself into danger. Hart seems to be drawn into the major goings-on within the US political system that could get him killed, though his dedication to the country he loves rises above all else. While there are some far-fetched aspects to the character’s involvement in the plot, Buffa does keep the action high as he seeks to entertain his readers throughout. Other characters not only complement one another, but appear to push an interesting underlying narrative that might better explain the plot of the book and the larger political machinery at work. Buffa weaves these into a strong narrative and uses his characters to push the story along effectively from start to finish. In a book that does not stop with its twists, Buffa keeps the reader wondering as they see the layers of this strong plot reveal themselves the further along things get. Using a mix of short and longer chapters, Buffa hooks his reader and does not stop until the final reveal, even then offering some hanging threads to keep the story open for more down the road. A great piece that will have me coming back for more soon, as I see another Buffa (sadly, not from this series) set to be released in the coming weeks!

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for another wonderful novel that mixes the zaniness of politics with the gritty side of crime. I hope others discover the wonders of your writing soon!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Rubicon (Bobby Hart #1), by Lawrence Alexander

Eight stars

I recently discovered the wonders of D.W. Buffa’s political/legal thrillers and have been devouring them whenever possible. I came across a series debut in which Buffa uses his pseudonym, Lawrence Alexander, which packs quite a punch. Bobby Hart is a US senator from California, preparing for re-election while also serving his constituents as best he can. When Hart is approached to discuss a sensitive matter, he finds himself sitting at a café in Germany, unsure of what to expect. Hart soon learns that there is a plot to assassinate someone during the US elections, codenamed RUBICON, but before he can learn anything else, his contact is shot in front of him. Returning to the US, Hart tries to learn a little more, confiding in a friend within the intelligence community. When an explosion rocks a political event where one of the presidential candidates is rallying support, a bloodbath ensues and Hart is left to wonder if this is RUBICON in action. As he tries to dig a little deeper, Hart discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye, with the US Administration at the centre. Tensions run high as Hart must stay one step ahead of whomever it is pulling strings. RUBICON may seem like a terror plot, but it resonates up through the electoral campaign and into the constitutional fibre of the country. How can it be stopped and what is the final act that will signal no retreat? Alexander does well to lay some exciting groundwork in this thriller, which mixes politics with the hunt to neutralise a terror cell. Recommended to those who need a quick and easy read that includes some American political action as well.

While I have many authors I try to follow, few have made as much of an impact on me as D.W Buffa, even when he pens something under another name. He knows his politics and how to convey a story that will both intrigue and lure a reader to seek more by reading further. Bobby Hart is both a keen senator and a wonderful protagonist in this piece. He has a backstory and a wife that can sometimes surface, but is also somewhat vague. As he has this major political revelation tossed into his lap, Hart must decide how best to represent his constituents while saving the entire US republic from annihilation. True, it may seem a little far-fetched, but the author does well to add great intrigue to the story without getting too dramatic. As Hart is pulled deeper into the mystery, he becomes an unwitting target and must extricate himself while revealing the truth before it is buried for good. Others add depth and volume to this story, in a debut that is sure to see some returning faces. Alexander sets the groundwork for more Bobby Hart, be it in the political arena or as a private citizen. Alexander offers the reader quite the tale here, mixing political intrigue with thrilling terror plots in a single novel. Political thrillers are hard to keep sharp, but Alexander seems able to do so with little issue. I just hope I can find the subsequent novels with ease, as I remain highly curious.

Kudos, Mr. Alexander (Buffa), for a great debut. I am eager to see what else you have in store for Bobby Hart, noticing that there are three novels in this series to date.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Evangeline, by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa presents this intriguing standalone legal drama, leaving the reader to serve as thirteenth jury member. The Evangeline is a massive cruising sailboat, destined to make a major journey on its inaugural trip from Nice and around the African continent. However, while out at sea, something went terribly wrong and the few survivors turned up off the Brazilian coast forty days later. Among the six survivors is a body, obviously killed and feasted upon by the others. Captain Vincent Marlowe, one of the six who lived, is brought up on murder charges. Marlowe’s defence is that he had to authorise the killing of one to save the others. In a novel told almost exclusively in the courtroom, Buffa presents the case of the Evangeline and how Marlowe played a role in keeping those who were able to flee the boat’s sinking from perishing themselves. Could Marlowe have done anything else and still kept the survivors alive? What of the boat’s owner, who decided at the last minute not to take the voyage? Was the boat seaworthy? Buffa explores these questions and more in this scintillating story that will leave the reader wondering where they find themselves while the trial progresses and eventually awaiting the jury’s verdict. Recommended to those who love a great courtroom drama that has more twists than simple answers, as well as the reader who is a fan of Buffa’s other work.

I did some binge reading of D.W. Buffa not long ago, but held onto this one for a time. I picked it up during a flight home and could not put it down. How a case of murder on the seas could pull me in so readily surprised me, but Buffa’s style is one that tends to do that with ease. With a large cast of characters and some wonderful developments throughout, I could not help but feel as though I were in the front row of the jury box, weighing all the evidence. Marlowe comes across as less than remorseful, though he is calm in his presentation that there were no options other than to turn on one survivor. As the story moves along, new plot twists arrive with the various witnesses who testify, turning what would seem a fairly straightforward case on its head. The narrative moved along with ease and I was energized to see how things would turn out from the outset. Buffa knows how to lure an audience in and uses his legal experience to weave a tale like no other. This is one novel that does not sink, though I wish it had ascended onto my radar sooner!

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for another wonderful novel. I cannot wait to see what else of yours I have yet to discover.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Trial by Fire (Joseph Antonelli #7), by D.W. Buffa

Seven stars

Just when you thought D.W. Buffa might have run out of ideas, he comes up with another stunner to keep the reader—and Joseph Antonelli—on their toes. Having basked in the limelight for many years, Joseph Antonelli is much pickier when it comes to the cases he will take. Instead, he is happy to stay in his corner office at the San Francisco law firm he calls home and watch the legal world spin on its head. When he is approached by one of the partners, asking him to appear on television, Antonelli is not quite sure that he’s game. However, when one of the firm’s clients owns a network with a top-rated legal talk show, one must sometimes accept the pressure. While on a panel discussing a current homicide trial, Antonelli meets Daphne McMillan, a lawyer in the D.A.’s office, and Julian Sinclair, a brilliant law professor whose knowledge of criminal proceedings is second to none. Sinclair comes off as quite docile, but there is a spark within him, so much so that Antonelli convinces him to join the firm. When Sinclair calls Antonelli one night, it is anything but a social call. He woke to find a murdered Daphne McMillan in his home. While they were having an affair, Sinclair denies that he was involved and requests Antonelli’s assistance. In whirlwind fashion, the trial is upon them, though media outlets have wasted little time passing judgment on Julian Sinclair. As Antonelli tries to put forth a defense and narrow in on the repulsive way Mrs. McMillan’s husband treats women, it all falls on deaf ears. Trial in the court of public opinion seems to be the only place justice is being heard. Angered by the farce, Antonelli works to find a new way to bring truth to the headline grabbers, though he will have to be conniving and convincing in equal measure. Buffa takes the legal thriller theme and expands it in this piece, which pushes Joseph Antonelli to his limits. Recommended for series fans who have enjoyed the collection to date, as well as readers who find unique thrillers to their liking.

I have enjoyed binge reading this series by D.W. Buffa, particularly as he uses his protagonist to push the envelop a little further than might normally be expected. These are a wonderfully complex set of novels that pit the protagonist against a legal world that has embittered him over the decades. Antonelli has become a celebrity in the legal world, which leads him to become more choosy with the cases he agrees to defend. Added to that, he comes to terms with the fact that no one wants to sit through a trial when there are talking heads who will dice and splice before delivering the verdict that everyone ought to accept. Antonelli wrestles with this throughout, though is able to use traditional lawyering to make sense of it all. Older and more job-focussed, the reader does not get the energetic lawyer that many have come to expect. Others make one-off appearances, even with Antonelli home in San Francisco. Some may have hoped for more of a homecoming theme, with recognizable names and characters, but that is surely not the case here. The story followed much of the same recipe as in past novels, but did not seem to come across as effective as in the past. The trial—usually a central focus—is almost a forced hurdle in the middle of the novel and there is little spark in the courtroom. I was disappointed with this, though one might expert that Buffa wanted to turn to other projects and needed an effective way to end Joseph Antonelli’s legal career. That being said, Joseph Antonelli does make a return (call it an eight book?) in Necessity, which returns the protagonist to his wonderful role as defense attorney. An interesting progression in the series, though I was not entirely convinced of its effectiveness. I would recommend readers begin at the start of this series and not use this novel as a litmus test for others.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for keeping Joseph Antonelli fresh and exciting, though perhaps it is time that he hang up his wing-tips.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Breach of Trust (Joseph Antonelli #6), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa takes this series in an interesting direction with this piece, straddling past and present as Joseph Antonelli faces events from law school and a chilling trial that has the country watching. When Joseph Antonelli is invited to attend his law school reunion, he is skeptical, but accepts nonetheless. While a Harvard grad, the reunion takes place at a posh hotel in New York City, a town that has an ominous connection to Antonelli’s law school days. Back in 1965, Anna Malreaux fell from a hotel balcony and many wonder if a friend last seen with her, Jamison ‘Jimmy’ Scott Haviland, might have been responsible. However, Haviland has always said that he is innocent, as have many others. Antonelli is approached by Thomas Browning at the reunion to say that the Malreaux case has the District Attorney and a grand jury quite intrigued, with an indictment sure to come soon. As it happens, Browning is also the one who twisted Antonelli’s arm to attend these festivities, and is the current Vice-President of the United States. Many wonder if there are those within the Administration who want to bring this ghost out of the closet and somehow tie Browning to the mess. When an indictment comes and Haviland is fingered as the one who likely pushed Malreaux, Antonelli agrees to serve as his counsel, having made a name for himself in the legal world. With Browning offering strategy and parading him around Washington before the trial, Antonelli can only wonder if there is a motive here, ahead of the next presidential election. Faced with a sarcastic prosecutor and a judge who is anything but timely, Antonelli must help this law school friend while also swimming in memories of life at Harvard and how Browning was anything but inclusive at the time. With the world watching, Antonelli will have to try this case and hope the pressure is not too much, especially as he is across the country from all his supports. Buffa knows how to impress and uses this novel to explore yet another side of Joseph Antonelli for series fans. Recommended to patient series fans who know Buffa well and the reader who enjoys a legal thriller with complex plot lines.

My affinity for novels by D.W. Buffa continues as I binge read this series. It continues to be a wonderfully complex set of novels that pit the protagonist in the middle of legal and personal struggles at a time when his career is blossoming. Delving yet again into the world of electoral politics, the reader discovers new and dastardly angles that pull Joseph Antonelli in many directions. Away from all he knows in San Francisco, he is forced to revisit his youth and some of the drama that befell him that Christmas Eve in 1965. The reader is subjected to a great deal of flashbacks as it relates to Antonelli’s law school days and those with whom he surrounded himself. The politics of the day, though, is nothing like modern times, where a presidential election hangs in the balance. With a seemingly new and vivacious woman ready to warm his bed, Antonelli is forced to divide his time, while admit to himself that he is not as young as he might once have been. Sharp-witted, Antonelli is ready for anything and pours it all out on the courtroom floor, impressing jurors and jurists alike. Others make one-off appearances, as the story shifts to NYC, leaving Antonelli to reinvent himself. The plot is excellent and propels the story forward effectively, keeping the reader enthralled throughout and does not lose any of its impact as the narrative moves forward. An effective progression in the series that takes the reader on quite the ride. Buffa knows what he is doing without compromising in the least.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for a fast-paced story that mixes past and present together, with an eerie political cloud looming overhead.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Star Witness (Joseph Antonelli #5), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa has done well with his Joseph Antonelli legal thriller series, taking the reader into the depths and darkest corners of the genre. In this novel, the protagonist tries his hand at the law in the glitzy city of Los Angeles, battling the giants of Hollywood and the seedy underbelly of the politics of the silver screen. While settling in San Francisco, Antonelli receives a call to come to Los Angeles to meet with a potential client. He cannot help but wonder and is brought to the city, where Stanley Roth, the famous film director, finds himself in some hot water. After his wife, Mary Margaret Flanders, was found in their pool, her throat slit, all eyes look to Roth as the obvious killer. Antonelli learns that Roth did not have the strongest marriage to his movie star spouse, nor was it monogamous, but there are a few more troubling aspects. With the revelation that Roth was violent to his wife and surrounded by vipers in his movie studio, there are many triggers that could have pushed Roth over the edge. Add to that, Roth saw himself as the greatest film executive ever, having penned ‘the modern Citizen Kane’ to show some of the hurdles he overcame. Antonelli finds himself battling uphill the entire time and facing a ruthless prosecutor who is out for blood. However, Antonelli has a few tricks up his sleeve, which he will need to use effectively, as the evidence paints a picture of guilt like no other. Buffa does well in yet another of his novels to show that Joseph Antonelli is a versatile character and one the attentive reader can enjoy. Recommended to those who have loved the series to date and the reader who enjoys a deeper and denser legal thriller.

Many will know that I have an affinity for novels by D.W. Buffa, which prove to be a deeper read and trigger the need to think a little more about the content. Delving into the world of Hollywood politics, the reader discovers new angles about Antonelli and this realm of the law, though there is little backstory on offer. Antonelli has seemingly chosen to live in San Francisco now and is making headway in his relationship that sparked in the past novel, though it is his ability to adapt to ever-changing legal scenarios that is the main focus of the protagonist here. The masterful courtroom work is what makes Antonelli such an interesting character, but it is replaced with decent banter and a great deal more angst for the world of Hollywood and the accused’s plight as he faces almost certain conviction, based on the facts. Other characters pepper the pages of the book and offer some shape to the case at hand, it is the cutthroat world of the silver screen that keeps the characters intriguing. As always, it is Buffa’s style to slowly draw the reader in with characters whose lives are anything but simple and who serve to draw out interesting tangents about the case and those actors at the centre of the legal argument. The story held my attention throughout, though the Hollywood angle served to offer less of a punch than a flick to the ear. Buffa never makes reading his novels easy, but the themes developed do offer something unique from past books in the series. The story seemed darker and not as sharp, but the end result baffled me as many of the past novels have done as well. I am fully committed to the series and am eager to see what new ideas await the dedicated reader. It’s time to dive into another novel and see what Buffa has in store!

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for new twists and an ever-evolving protagonist. Not my favourite of the series, but surely one that kept me wondering.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Legacy (Joseph Antonelli #4), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa has done well, writing both legal and political thrillers. Now, I have the chance to see him blend these two sub-genres in the explosive fourth novel in the Joseph Antonelli series. After his cousin reaches out to him, Antonelli agrees to travel to San Francisco to consider representing a young man accused of murder. While this would not seem to pose any issue, the fact that the victim is a United States senator adds drama and intrigue to the case. Senator Jeremy Fullerton is well known around California, though he is by no means a favoured son. He was involved in a run for the governorship and hoped to use that office to springboard his campaign for president. As Antonelli arrives and gets a lay of the land, he discusses the case with his potential client, Jamaal Washington, who says that he was walking home from work one foggy night and came upon the slain senator. From there, things take an odd turn that sees Washington shot by SFPD and his fingerprints on the murder weapon. As Antonelli agrees to act as defense counsel, he begins preparing his case, which will be more difficult than he could have imagined. Antonelli is pulled into the political realm to see just what Fullerton was like and how many people disliked him for a handful of reasons. Accusations from all corners paint quite a picture, none more than the revelation of his congressional assistant, who has taken over running in the gubernatorial race. By the time court proceedings commence, Antonelli is subjected to an aggressive feud between the District Attorney and the judge, making it clear that they’re no longer in Portland. While Antonelli effectively presents his case, he cannot help but wonder if the merits of his client’s innocence will prevail, or if a young black man will be sandbagged and sent to die because of circumstantial evidence. Another stellar courtroom thriller with Buffa’s signature slow reveal, forcing the dedicated reader to use patience as they learn the truth. Recommended to series fans and those who enjoy the darker side of politics.

Many will know that I have read and enjoyed novels by D.W. Buffa in the past, both political and legal thrillers. The mix has added a new level of intrigue for me, particularly with Joseph Antonelli in the mix. The reader, who has learned much about Antonelli in the past, is subjected to something a little different. The opening chapter retells some of his early memories from childhood, as well as the annual trips he took to San Francisco to visit family. Now, with a handle on criminal defense work, he is back, though his family life takes a backseat—save for a paragraph long explanation of what happened to his fiancée after the end of the previous novel. Rather, Antonelli is forced to dive into the world of politics and legal work in the ‘big city’. Antonelli finds himself wandering around, learning scraps here and there, while also trying to use this to distract from his client being accused of a capital crime. As with the past novels, the masterful courtroom work is what makes Antonelli such an interesting character. Others pepper the pages of the book and offer interesting tangential narratives, exploring more about the victim and how politics can change someone. While the impatient reader may complain about too much weighing things down, it is Buffa’s style to slowly draw the reader in with characters whose lives are anything but simple. The story held my attention throughout, mixing criminal law with the mudslinging of politics. Buffa never makes reading his novels easy, but the narrative is full of nuggets to keep the reader on their toes, with rewards for remaining dedicated. The legal arguments are presented well and leave the reader to wonder where the truth can be found. I am fully committed to the series and cannot wait to see what else Buffa has for his protagonist, with new approaches to criminal defence emerging. Not a courtroom thriller series for all, though surely perfect for a reader who enjoys being an active part of the journey.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for another winner. I cannot wait to see what comes in the next novel you have in this series.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Judgment (Joseph Antonelli #3), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa returns with another novel in the Joseph Antonelli legal series that will keep readers on the edge of their seat as the case slowly reveals itself. In a story layered in nuances and subplots that are as interesting as the central case itself, the reader will have to focus all their attention to catch every aspect and piece the case together effectively. Judge Calvin Jeffries is dead after having his throat slit. Jeffries’ murder remains a mystery as many gather to remember his life, including Joseph Antonelli. It is at the reception that many recount the time that Antonelli and Jeffries clashed, an event Portland’s premier defence attorney would like to forget. However, Antonelli knows that there is more to the story, which includes the plight of Elliott Winston, an up-and-coming lawyer that Antonelli tried to guide and who struck up an odd friendship with the judge. Winston is now locked away in an institution for the criminally insane and expresses little distress when Antonelli shares the news. After some quick police work, a suspect is arrested for the murder and a press conference is called. Antonelli tries to get himself appointed as defence counsel to the homeless man, but the suspect commits suicide in his cell after offering a full confession. Case closed, or so it would seem. When another judge is found murdered in the same manner a few months later, another homeless man is arrested, but he’s chosen to stay mute. Antonelli takes up the case and brings it to trial, though there is something that does not make sense with the case. Might all this have some tangential connection to Elliott Winston? Antonelli cannot shake the possibility, but will have to put all his efforts into defending his latest client. If that were not enough, his high school sweetheart has resurfaced, leaving Antonelli to process feelings he thought were long buried. An excellent legal thriller that slowly reveals itself, leaving the dedicated reader to patiently peel back all the layers to get to the truth. Recommended to series fans and those who want a deeper and darker legal tale to keep them enthralled.

Let me first say that the time it took me to read this book—a week—should not be indicative of my feelings about it. Life happens and I wish I had been able to dedicate more time, over a shorter period, to getting through it. I have read and enjoyed a handful of novels by D.W. Buffa, both political and legal thrillers, each one as powerful as the last. Joseph Antonelli’s backstory is again pulled into the forefront of this novel, both a more recent past—covering Judge Jeffries and Elliott Winston—and that of decades ago. Both these narratives fill in some of the gaps that series fans may have discovered with the protagonist, though it is the current-day developments that enrich the character even more. With a sharp legal mind and the determination to get his clients the justice they deserve, Antonelli dazzles readers while leaving the prosecution cursing themselves. A handful of supporting characters serve to keep the story moving forward, all of whom are new to the series. This permits the reader to see Antonelli react in new and surprising ways. The story itself was great, though it will take much attention and some mental gymnastics to keep the storylines straight, somewhat important in the overall novel. Buffa never makes it easy, but the narrative flows well and the reader will be rewarded by being patient and staying the course. The legal arguments are intriguing and presented in a captivating manner, which only adds to the allure of the novel. I am committed to the series and cannot wait to forge ahead to see what else Buffa has in store for Antonelli, while providing interesting approaches to criminal defence. Not a courtroom thriller series to be dismissed, though I warn readers who want something light, this may not be for you.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for keeping me entertained throughout. I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for us in the series and what antics Antonelli will undertake.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Prosecution (Joseph Antonelli #2), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

After excitedly beginning the Joseph Antonelli series, I have come back for more D.W. Buffa and the nuanced legal thrillers he pens. After deciding to take a hiatus from the legal world and isolating himself from others, Joseph Antonelli is called to come to the courthouse for a meeting. A murder suspect has come forward to reveal that he was contracted by one of the assistant district attorneys to commit a murder for hire. While the story does not seem plausible that the ADA would have his own wife killed, the current D.A. wants everything done above board and appoints Antonelli as special prosecutor. Thinking that there is likely nothing to the case, Antonelli begins work on the other side of the legal table, where he uncovers some interesting evidence that might tell another story. Pushing ahead, Antonelli works to convince a jury of twelve that this lawyer used his power to negotiate a sentence reduction to have his wife killed, paving the way for a new and salacious love affair. However, Antonelli will need more than luck as the burden of proof rests solely with him to find justice the a victim who was but a pawn in a larger game. If that were not enough, Antonelli must keep his defence skills sharp when a friend calls on him for a serious criminal matter as well. Well-paced and compelling, Buffa pulls the reader into the middle of two intense crimes, with the courtroom as a stage on which Antonelli can present his skills effectively. Recommended to those who love legal thrillers that require some definite mental acrobatics.

While I have read a few political novels by D.W. Buffa, I am eager to have started the legal thrillers, which focus much on the courtroom and the nuances of the law. Joseph Antonelli has quite the personality, even two novels in, testing the boundaries of all aspects of his life. While the reader spent much of the first novel learning Antonelli’s backstory, this piece explores much of his legal thinking, as he sit on the opposite side of the courtroom. Antonelli spends some of his time remembering the legal hurdles that saw him put the law in his rear view mirror, as well as how his mentor died suddenly. The reader is able to see Antonelli in all his glory as he pushes the limits of the law to see a murderer put away, while defending another in a single novel. Others who have returned to the series play interesting roles, some reprising the same ones they had before, while others take more of a centre stage in this piece. There are surely some issues that are left dangling, which Buffa will have to address in forthcoming pieces, though I do like the pace things are taking. The legal writing is strong and the courtroom narrative is some of the best I have come across, pulling me into the centre of the case and making me feel as though I am in the middle of the action. Buffa works hard to paint an effective picture of the crimes at hand while also personalising all the characters who grace the pages of his novel. If I had one critique, it would be that Buffa seems keen on introducing two major cases into a single book—or three, as in the series debut—which lessens the impact of the overall reading experience. I cannot wait to get my hands on the third novel in the series, which is sure to provide much entertainment.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for keeping this series sharp and intriguing. I am eager where you will take Joseph Antonelli in the future.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons