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: