The Hidden Man (Jason Kalorich #1), by David Ellis

Eight stars

Choosing to begin a new series, I turned to David Ellis, with whom I am familiar through his collaborative writing. Focussing on his standalone work, I turned to this legal thriller, which kept me riveted throughout the process and begging for more (thankfully, there are three more books). Little Audrey Cutler is taken from her bed one night in 1980, stolen from under her mother’s watchful eye. The police turn their attention immediately to Griffin Perlini, a known paedophile in the area. However, Perkins denies having anything to do with it and Audrey cannot be found anywhere on the premises. Twenty-six years later, Audrey’s older brother, Sammy, runs into Perlini in public. Soon thereafter, Perlini is found murdered and Sammy is the most likely suspect. When criminal lawyer Jason Kolarich is approached by a mysterious Mr. Smith to defend Sammy Cutler, he is not sure he wants the case, A best friend to Sammy in their childhood, Kolarich remembers the tragedy well and is not sure if he can be of proper assistance. However, this Mr. Smith is quite convincing and Kolarich agrees to take the case, but is forbidden to seek any continuances or additional forensics. Under great pressure, Kolarich begins his defence prep, trying not only to ensure his client’s innocence, but build a case against Griffin Perlini, if only to give Sammy an out for having committed the crime. In the midst of the preparation, Kolarich learns that his brother has been nabbed with guns and drugs, likely facing a long time in jail. Juggling these two cases simultaneously, Kolarich learns that there is more to each case than meets the eye and that Mr. Smith may not be a Good Samaritan, but a man with an agenda all his own. Fighting against the clock and the legal hurdles before him, Jason Kolarich will have to show his acumen as a defence attorney, or someone will surely suffer, both emotionally and physically. A wonderful start to an intriguing series, David Ellis has me hooked. Recommended for those who love a well-plotted legal thriller as well ad the reader who enjoys getting lost in the fast-pace of a great novel.

I have long known of David Ellis as one of the stronger collaborators with a very popular author, but I wanted to see some of his work where he might be able to come out from the shadows. Ellis does well on his own, crafting powerful legal thrillers that never stop developing. Jason Kolarich is a wonderful protagonist, whose life has not always been very easy. Growing up in an abusive household, Kolarich learned early to fight his own battles and protect those closest to him. This determination served him well when he and Sammy Culter were kids and spilled onto the football field when he made it to college. However, anger may have clouded his judgment, something that Kolarich had to nip in the bud in order to properly defend his clients. Gritty and stopping at little, Kolarich is ready to defend those who need him, while pushing others out of his way. Other characters serve to develop the plot well, impeding Kolarich ruthlessly, but also helping to extract the best information possible. Ellis has created a handful of wonderful characters who enrich the novel in many ways. The reader is treated to countless flavours throughout the book, all of which blend together effectively. With a strong plot and a few legal cases that are time sensitive, Ellis pulls the reader into the middle of the story quickly and never loses the momentum to keep the piece on track. With a mix of short and longer chapters, the reader is ready to tackle “a little more”, which ends up being a sizeable chunk. This series debut has me wanting a whole lot more, something that bodes well as I binge this series.

Kudos, Mr. Ellis, for this fabulous legal thriller. I am not sure why I waited so long to read your solo work!

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