The Bomb Maker’s Son (Parker Stern #3), by Robert Rotstein

Nine stars

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:

Reckless Disregard (Parker Stern #2), by Robert Rotstein

Nine stars

Robert Rotstein returns with another sensational thriller that is sure to keep the reader hooked until the final page turn. Again mixing the best from legal and courtroom sub-genres, Rotstein provides the reader will a great piece that entertains as well as educates. Parker Stern is still coming to terms with the end result of his last significant case and the fallout that caused the death of a dear friend. Choosing a lighter type of law, he turns to legal mediation, which has all the draw for him of watching beige paint dry. When he is contacted through a messenger program by a computer game developer, he is intrigued by the idea put before him. A new game has just hit the market, one that places William ‘the Conqueror’ Bishop in the middle of the alleged kidnapping and murder of a 1980s movie actress, Paula ‘Felicity’ McGrath. When Bishop finally slaps a libel lawsuit on the developer, who goes by the moniker ‘Poniard’, Stern is ready to do all he can. However, it would seem that Poniard enjoys remaining in the shadows and running the show without regard for commonplace rules. When Stern discovers that he will face-off against his old love interest, Lovely Diamond, he is prepared, though not all that keen. As gamers slowly crack the various levels of this new game, they discover additional clues that tell a twisted backstory of how Bishop might have killed Felicity for his own gains. In a number of ‘user-led levels’, there are scenes of extreme violence that play out in reality, leaving defence witnesses and informants dead. All this is troubling, but nothing more so that learning that the Church of the Sanctified Assembly is involved, a cult with which Stern had an unfortunate connection until his mid-teens. This will be one case that Stern could never have expected handling with a client who refuses to heed legal advice. Might the libel suit be the least of his worries, as those around him turn up dead? Rotstein has done it again with a second stellar piece in collection that has all the elements of a superior series. Highly recommended for those who enjoy novels that test the limits of the legal world.

Rotstein has a wonderful way of not only presenting a case with legal implications, but also offering believable arguments during that journey inside the courtroom, unique for writers of the genre. The story is complex and nuanced in its discussion of key legal elements, but written in such a way that the reader wants to come back to learn more. Parker Stern remains a strong character, exhibiting much more than a great legal mind. Those who read the series debut will remember mention of his early years as a child film actor and more recent debilitating stage fright in the courtroom. With these still part of the backstory, Rotstein pushes a new angle, the struggle for Stern to discover what happened to sour his romantic relationship with Lovely Diamond, another key player in the opening novel. As Stern picks up the pieces from that failed romantic period, he is forced to wrap his head around a new form of legal matter with a client that he cannot control, particularly because they remain in the ether of cyberspace. Working with the limited information he has, Stern will do his best, though is blindsided at numerous times throughout the piece. Stern uses his strongest legal maneuvers to keep the reader entertained, even if it will not be enough. There are a handful of other characters who shape the story, including the aforementioned Lovely Diamond, who continues to work diligently within the parameters of the law. William Bishop also proves to be an interesting character, with a long history in the movie industry. Poniard is able to extract many interesting tidbits to keep the reader wondering how countless interactions between Stern and Bishop will play out. The story of this book is anything but simple, yet Rotstein makes it easily palatable without watering down the arguments, particularly with the use of a video game and an elusive defendant. The reader must buckle down to take part in this fast-paced thriller, which touches on a number of legal and personal issues simultaneously. I can see a great deal of interest coming from these books by those who enjoy the theme and hope the third novel in this series offers up another sensational story.

Kudos, Mr. Rotstein, for a great continuation to this series. I’ll be sure to recommend it to others as I wrap my head around all you had to say.

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

Corrupt Practices (Parker Stern #1), by Robert Rotstein

Nine stars

Robert Rotstein storms onto the scene with this sensational legal and courtroom thriller that is sure to keep the reader hooked until the final page turn. Parker Stern was once a successful lawyer working in a mid-sized firm. When his mentor—who happened to be the senior partner—committed suicide, everything fell apart and the lawyers scattered. Now, one of his former colleagues has been charged with embezzlement from a major L.A. church, one that some would call a powerful cult. While Stern has not set foot in a courtroom for quite some time, he agrees to take the case, only to have his client commit suicide while awaiting trial. If this were not enough, Stern has taken on teaching a law seminar at one of the local colleges, where he meets one of the keenest legal minds he’s come across for some time, with the curious name of Lovely Diamond. With the embezzlement case soon becoming a legal battle with the deceased’s estate, Stern will need all the help that he can get and turns to his students to cobble together aspects of the case, as Lovely takes the lead. Holding onto an inner hatred for this cult, Stern will do everything in his power to find the loopholes to show that the embezzlement is coming from within the hierarchy of the organization and that these deaths are anything but self-inflicted. He will have to turn to someone he vowed never to contact in order to learn some of the inner workings of the church, but even that might not be enough. Juggling a highly controversial First Amendment case as well, Stern forges ahead, blindly, into the courtroom and refuses to stand down until justice is served. Rotstein has so much to offer and stuns readers with his ability to weave such a strong legal tale. Highly recommended for those who enjoy novels that take the law and put it through its paces!

I recently discovered Rotstein when reading another of his standalone legal pieces, which pulled me right in. I found that his writing was not only believable, but took me on that journey inside the courtroom where few writers have been able to effectively sell a legal thriller. The story is full of complexities as well as nuances that keep the reader coming back to learn more, while providing a handful of strong characters to guide the way. Parker Stern is so much more than a great legal mind in this piece. From his early years as a child film actor to his debilitating stage fright in the courtroom, he shapes the novel in so many ways. Fuelled by his hatred for not only the lawyers on the opposite side of the courtroom, but also the organization that saw his childhood destroyed, Stern will stop at nothing to use the law to enact revenge, however he can. His legal maneuvers are surely something that will keep the reader entertained, while they marvel at his passion for the law. There are a handful of other characters who shape the story, none more than Lovely Diamond, the third-year law student whose passion for the underdog cannot be downplayed. With an interesting backstory of her own, it was only a matter of time before she and Stern would find themselves working alongside one another, in ways no one could have expected. Her passion for helping and determination to get to the root of the legal argument propels the narrative forward and keeps the reader intrigued throughout. The story of this book is anything but simple, yet Rotstein makes it easily palatable without watering down the arguments. The reader is in for quite the ride and will surely find something that suits their fancy, with a number of legal and personal issues coming to a head simultaneously. I cannot wait to get my hands on the second novel to continue this wonderful journey through the law and how the courtroom is the unpredictable battlefield.

Kudos, Mr. Rotstein, for a sensational start to this series. I will have to continue exploring the life of Parker Stern and how you shape him through the three novels you have written.

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

We, The Jury, by Robert Rotstein

Nine stars

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

Robert Rotstein has developed this unique legal thriller, told from the perspective of the other side of the courtroom. Rather than putting the reader in the middle of a courtroom drama, the story unfolds as the legal banter is wrapping up and the case is sent to the jury. David Sullinger is accused of having murdered his wife, Amanda, the day before their 21st wedding anniversary. According to David, he was subjected to significant and ongoing spousal abuse, which led him to act in self-defence at the time he plunged a pickaxe into her skull. Told from multiple perspectives, the book opens with the judge offering jury instructions, which are bumbled, and proceeds to the deliberations in the case. In a narrative that offers the jury members’ own perspectives on the case, as well as other officers of the court (judge, bailiff, lawyers) and even some outsiders, the reader learns more about what supposedly happened through recollections of evidence presented. Additionally, Rotstein offers some outside information on the judge, who is showing signs of mental distress due to personal matters, trying to hold it all together. With tidbits of testimony added within various chapters, the reader becomes a juror themselves, as they see the arguments made in deliberation, before a decision is made. Quite the story and highly unique! Rotstein is sure to impress those who enjoy legal thrillers with a different perspective, especially the reader who likes to be the thick of a courtroom drama.

I thoroughly enjoy legal thrillers and courtroom dramas, as they are not only entertaining, but highly educational. Rotstein peppers a little of everything in this case, which sees a man’s freedom hang in the balance. Spousal abuse against men remains a new defence, though it is one that has been rolled out here. Taking the perspectives of the jurors provides the reader with a unique glimpse into what they know, how they feel, and what influences their voting. The banter between these individuals—the least legally trained but with the most legal power in a case—is amazing and Rotstein infers a great deal throughout. The characters are plentiful and each has their own perspective, which allows the reader to watch as development and flavour mix to create the most entertaining set of individuals. The story is quite well done, offering great insight into how the same set of facts can be interpreted so many ways by a group of eight (see an early explanation in the story about how eight can serve on a jury in California) common citizens. With short chapters and a variety of perspectives, the reader will not get bogged down in the legal or personal minutiae of the characters, but will seek to see how things end up when the foreperson presses the red button, indicating a decision has been reached.

Kudos, Mr. Rotstein, for such a great book. I will recommend it to anyone who enjoys legal pieces, as you have a wonderful handle on the genre.

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

The Family Lawyer (A BookShot Collection), by James Patterson, Robert Rotstein, Christopher Charles, and Rachel Howzell Hall

Nine stars

While BookShots are a wonderful way to spend a few hours, bundling them together can also be a great way to carry a few spine-tingling stories together, permitting easier comparison in a single review. In this collection of three stories, the reader is able to explore three distinct stories that will keep them on the edge of their seats. From a legal thriller to a police manhunt, to a familial crime cover-up, James Patterson and his collaborators show the distinct advantage of BookShot reading.

The Family Lawyer, with Robert Rotstein

Matt Hovanes is a fairly successful attorney who left the D.A.’s office when a colleague tried to play bait and switch with some important evidence. When he receives a panicked phone call from his daughter, Hailey, he knows there is trouble. Hailey’s been arrested for cyber bullying and the victim, Farah Medhipour, committed suicide six weeks before. Declaiming her innocence, Hailey agrees to follow her father’s direction, though Matt is still blurring the parent-attorney line when he asks his partner to defend Hailey. While they prepare for trial, Matt’s son, Daniel, a troubled soul himself, tells his own version of events, but backs his sister’s narrative. Matt learns that his daughter is not the angel he thinks she is and comes to see that Farah has apparently been stalking his daughter, and Hailey has retaliated by using her own popularity to isolate the victim. As the trial begins, Matt does all he can to deflect the evidence against Hailey, which is mounting, as he seeks to learn what led Farah to hang herself. When the defence rises to present its case, it is an uphill battle, with accusations, texts, photos, and smear campaigns. Now Matt must decide if the truth or negotiated freedom is the better way to go. A chilling legal thriller with strong ties to current cyberbullying and the effects that some teenagers may not consider when using cell phones as swords.

Night Sniper, with Christopher Charles

The streets of New York are not safe with a sniper on the loose. They kill randomly, in all boroughs with victims of many ages. There does not seem to be a link to any of the victims. As an NYPD Homicide Task Force rushes to make sense of this, the Chief is about to insist on a city-wide curfew. The reader sees the sniper’s perspective first-hand, in alternating chapters, as well as their rationale as they play a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. One member of the Task Force, Detective Cheryl Mabern, is not welcomed by all, especially since she’s voluntarily locked herself away in a treatment facility. A shooting gone bad and a life of vices has rounded the sharp edges that Mabern usually shows her team. As the killer hones their sights on Mabern, things take a dangerous turn, one that could cost more lives and leave Mabern with much blood on her hands. This collaboration between James Patterson and Christopher Charles proves exciting for the reader and keeps the story moving effectively until the final sentence.

The Good Sister, with Rachel Howzell Hall

When Dani Lawrence receives a midnight call from her sister, she knows there’s something wrong. Melissa has a panicked sound to her voice, which Dani realises is justified. Arriving at the house, Melissa’s husband, Kirk, is slumped in a chair and it does not look as if his excessive drinking is the case. Dani and Melissa try to come up with something to explain it, only to have Melissa admit that she’s killed her scumbag husband. Dani knows that the authorities will need to be called, but blood is thicker than any legal necessity, or is it? When the police show up, it turns to mayhem, forcing Dani to escort her young nephew away while Melissa faces a barrage of questions. Dani’s long had suspicions that her brother-in-law has a wandering eye and a group of women on the side, but could Melissa really have been pushed to the edge that dramatically? With the evidence seemingly safely stowed away, Dani soon learns that karma sometimes has a way of getting in the middle of the perfect plan to deflect the truth. Faced with added pressure, will Dani be able to keep her cool, or is Melissa destined for an extended separation from her son? Patterson and Rachel Howzell Hall work masterfully here to create a wonderful story that will enthuse the BookShot reader and keep them coming back for more.

All three of these stories were the perfect fit for a collection, as they explore different aspects of the law and keep the reader hooked from the opening paragraphs until the final sentence lingers in the air. The key characters found throughout offer up unique perspectives when faced with legal matters, each choosing to take their own approach. Character development and backstory is effectively used throughout, permitting the reader to feel a strong connection, even if they do not agree with the decisions being made. The secondary characters also help paint an effective image of the law and its various loopholes, entertaining as well as supporting in their roles. All three stories worked effectively, though none could have blended with the others, their premises unique and the approach distinct. Patterson has chosen well, not only to collaborate with these three, but to bundle these pieces together. I am eager to sink my teeth into another BookShot collection to see if it proves as effective in its presentation.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Rotstein, and Charles, as well as Madam Hall, for such a great array of stories. These are the types of BookShots I enjoy reading and will recommend them to all who will listen.

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