Robert Rotstein’s third legal thriller packs another punch that is sure to keep the reader flipping pages late into the night. Mixing the best from legal and courtroom sub-genres, Rotstein pulls the reader into yet another battle that has deep-rooted implications for many involved. Parker Stern has been able to cobble together a decent legal career, after years as a child actor and being subjected to a horrible early life in a cult, alongside his vapid mother. When he arrives home one day, his mother awaits him with major news; she wants him to defend a long-time friend of hers who has been on the lam for almost forty years. Accused of bombing a government building in 1975, Ian Holzner admits that while he had revolutionary leanings, he is innocent of this crime. Wanting to clear his name once and for all, Ian has come in from the cold and will accept no one other than Parker as his defence attorney. Why? It would seem that Ian is Parker’s elusive father, a man about whom Parker has only heard fairly tales since he was young. As this is a capital crime, Parker will need to enlist the assistance of a seasoned lawyer. This also means that he’ll be working alongside his former love interest, Lovely Diamond. As they begin trying to piece together the information from decades ago, they realise the deck is stacked against them. The judge is none other than the one who presided over the trial of one of the other conspirators that fingered Ian for the crimes, the original documentation was ruined in a fire from the early 1980s, and many of the witnesses are unwilling to help Ian. As legal proceedings begin and Parker is able to secure house arrest for his client, a bombing at the courthouse brings back memories of 1975, with a note from a revolutionary group demanding Ian’s release. Could his underground organisation be resurrected to wreak havoc yet again? While trying to juggle legal matters, his relationship with Lovely, and an apparent half-family about which he knew nothing, Parker Stern is hit with news that some of the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Church of the Sanctified Assembly might finally see the light of day. There is surely no time to rest for Parker, as the life of his father literally hangs in the balance. A stunning novel by Rotstein that pulls together all that the series reader has learned to date. Highly recommended for those who have followed the series, as well as legal thriller enthusiasts. I’d suggest reading the previous two novels to have the full impact.
Rotstein’s writing style is a clever mix of legal arguments and personal development shaped into a well-paced narrative that intrigues the reader. The story is yet another unique legal situation with the added bonus of allowing the series reader to see just how Parker will react to another round of devastating news. The lingering mentions of Lovely and the Church of the Sanctified Assembly provide ongoing issues for the protagonist, but there is always a new and troublesome situation with which Parker cannot fully divorce himself. Parker Stern remains a strong character, exhibiting a great legal mind, though it has been quashed by bad luck over the past number of years, something the series fan will know already. His early years as a child film actor and more recent debilitating stage fright in the courtroom play a role in the story yet again, though their place is firmly in the rear view mirror, permitting some character growth. Rotstein pushes the ‘new-found’ father angle quite well, particularly since it is impossible for Stern to ignore it with Ian so close to him at all times. This struggle is one that comes to the surface throughout and the reader may see glimpses of Stern’s trying to digest the news and place it in some semblance of order in his mind. Stern uses his strongest legal maneuvers to keep the reader entertained, working not only against time but the lack of interest many have to save Ian Holzner. There are a handful of other characters who shape the story, including the aforementioned Ian Holzner, whose renegade past and anti-government sentiment make him an interesting character as the narrative advances. There are strong legal, political, and personal characters scattered throughout, all of whom play integral roles to shape the story in ways that could not have been predicted, adding flavour to an already intense plot. The story of this book is anything but simple with its foundation decades in the past, yet Rotstein makes it easy to switch between eras and get a sense of the mindset of those who lived in the early 1970s and the passion they possessed. The reader must buckle down to take part in this fast-paced thriller, which touches on a number of legal and personal issues simultaneously without pausing to permit synthesising. I can see a great deal of interest coming from these books by those who enjoy the theme and hope more books in the series emerge in the years to come.
Kudos, Mr. Rotstein, for a great series. I am addicted and count myself as lucky for stumbling upon your recent standalone novel for introducing me to 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