Victor Methos continues with another great legal thriller, shifting the focus towards two defence attorneys who are trying to protect a man who won’t deny the crime his is accused of committing. Methos uses his great style to construct a powerful legal case and provides impediments on both sides of the aisle, as a man with diagnosed mental disease is set to be locked away for a long time. Chilling and reflective, Methos provides a stellar novel once again.
After the discovery of three bodies and a woman clinging to life in rural Nevada, the police are on the lookout for a suspect along the highways. After stopping Arlo Ward, they may have found their man; dripping in blood and fully cooperative with authorities. Ward admits to the killings, citing that he was encouraged by a demon. After signing a confession and detailed account of the crime, it appears to be a slam-dunk case.
When two defence attorneys, Dylan Aster and Lily Ricci, receive a call from an overwhelmed public defender, they agree to take a look at the case. Ward continues to speak openly about the murders and cooperates with whatever authorities want, something that does not bode well for any defence. However, the factor that Ward has been diagnosed with severe schizophrenia may help soften the blow, keeping him out of jail, per se, but still in a confined facility. Against their better judgment, Aster and Ricci agree to the case, hoping that it will help their fledging firm gain notoriety.
As Aster prepares his case, he’s given a key piece of information about Ward; he is likely innocent of any crimes. This type of schizophrenia manifests not only with intense delusions, but also a desire to seek the limelight. Arlo Ward likely wants fame and attention and could have stumbled upon the scene, only to create his guilt to get others to take notice. It’s a jarring admission, but will take more than simple testimony to sway a jury.
Paired against a strong prosecutor, Aster and Ricci will have to do all they can for their client. The evidence is stacked against him and Ward does not seem to want to back down from his claims of being guilty. As theories abound, there are also many secrets that come to light and additional lies that could damage both sides. It’s all or nothing in trying to convince a jury that a man who espouses his guilt is actually innocent of these crimes.
Whenever I take the time to read any of Victor Methos’ work, I am pulled into the middle of a sensational legal drama that keeps me thinking. The characters are realistic, the plot plausible, and the legal hurdles seem close to insurmountable. Still, I cannot help but lose myself in the intricacies and want even more. This is truly the sign of a great writer who has much to say.
While Dylan Aster and Lily Ricci were secondary characters in the previous novel within the series, they come out of the shadows to offer themselves up to the reader. Both are sharp legal minds, but have their own backstories that impede them throughout. Methos makes sure to touch on this, as well as how their thinking when it comes to a defence strategy differs greatly. Both bring much to the story and I found myself wanting to learn more, as the maze of legal representation got more difficult throughout the novel.
Methos does a masterful job of representing the story through the eyes of many strong characters and uses some intriguing plot twists to advance the narrative effectively. This is no ‘cookie cutter’ legal thriller, but rather one with many layers that keeps the reader on edge as things progress. Legal matters receive a great deal of attention, but it is the nuances of the individual characters that make the story even better. While I have read a number of Methos’ novels, this may be my favourite because of how it made me think about everything placed before me. That’s got to be worth something!
Kudos, Mr. Methos, for another great novel. I cannot say enough about your work and hope others discover it before too long.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons