An Unreliable Truth (Desert Plains #3), by Victor Methos

Nine stars

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

Crimson Lake Road (Desert Plains #2), by Victor Methos

Eight stars

Victor Methos is back with another explosive legal thriller that pits a sharp prosecutor against a killer whose penchant for art is likely only surpassed by the outward unlikelihood of their being capable of the crime. Methos knows how to tell a story, which is apparent yet again, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats throughout this piece, set in the heart of Nevada.

Having done all she feels is possible as a US Attorney, Jessica Yardley has decided to retire, or at least take on a new position elsewhere. However, all that is put on hold when the body of a woman is found, mutilated. The eerie nature of the scene is heightened when it’s discovered to replicate an African artist’s painting.

A month later, one of Yardley’s own friends is attacked and barely escapes alive, likely a potential victim of the same killer. As the case mounts, a suspect emerges, one Dr. Michael Zachary. Yardley agrees to prosecute the case and begins putting everything together, even though Zachary is a pillar of the community. The evidence does not lie, at least as far as Yardley’s concerned.

Pitted against a young and stellar defence attorney, Yardley will have to do everything she can to ensure a win, including consult her ex-husband, a serial killer himself, to get insight into how a murderer thinks. If this is the only way to ensure success, Yardley’s not past take that route. When the case takes a significant turn, Yardley begins to second-guess her choice to lead the prosecution, but it’s too late to bow out now.

Victor Methos is one of those authors whose books I stumbled upon quite by accident. It only took me a few chapters of the first book to realise that this was an author I could easily come to enjoy ad I have keep my eyes open for his work ever since. Methos mixes stellar narrative work building a strong crime before turning things over to the courtroom, where the real magic happens. Those who enjoy that mix of crime and legal ramification will thoroughly enjoy this piece by Victor Methos.

Jessica Yardley plays a central and intriguing role in this novel. Balancing work as a US Attorney with being the mother to a mathematical genius, Yardley’s life is never dull. Add to that, her ex-husband was convicted and is serving time for serial murder. The reader can see great character development throughout, with the odd foible here and there, as well as some backstory related to a time in life when things were simpler. Methos does well with his protagonist and keeps the reader wanting more.

The recipe for a great legal thriller is to have the reader feel the need for intervention through the commission of a crime or wrong and then taking the story through the courts to show how it can be adjudicated, not always turning out as expected. Methos does that well and keeps the reader wondering what legal twists await as the case progresses. While there appears to be a slam-dunk case here, nothing is guaranteed. The strong narrative pushes things along and thickens the plot, while the handful of key characters breathe energy into the story. Working a few subplots into the larger story, Methos keeps the reader’s mind always spinning and wonderful what awaits them. Highly entertaining, to say the least!

Kudos, Mr. Methos, for another great legal thriller. I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for fans.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

A Killer’s Wife (Desert Plains #1), by Victor Methos

Eight stars

Victor Methos is back with another captivating thriller that mixes crime and the law, with a dash of serial murder. Jessica Yardley is a US Attorney in Nevada with an interesting past. Once married to a sadistic serial killer, Yardley is trying to distance herself from that past—one about which she had no idea—and raise a teenage daughter on her own. When she is approached by the FBI about a set of murders, she is stunned to see they replicate those of her ex, Eddie Cal. After agreeing to serve as a prosecutor overseeing the investigation, Yardley cannot get it out of her head that someone is trying to lure her back into a state of vulnerability with these gruesome crimes. If that were not all, Yardley’s daughter is brilliant but making all the wrong choices and finds herself mixed-up with the wrong crowd. Juggling both a personal and professional life, Yardley finds the momentum she needs and isolates something that connects the crimes, only to realise she knows the killer. When the accused is brought to court, Jessica Yardley can only watch, told that she is too close to participate in the courtroom. However, this accused is wily and a legal powerhouse, shredding the US Attorney prosecuting at every turn. With a killer set to be freed and double jeopardy sure to take effect, Jessica Yardley will have to do all she can to prevent disaster yet again, no matter whose help she seeks. Methos does it again with a thriller that pulled me in and kept the story strong. Recommended to those who love quick paced legal thrillers, as well as the reader familiar with Victor Methos and his work.

I discovered Victor Methos and his wonderful collection of novels last summer and have not been able to get enough. He mixes the thrill of a legal story with the sharpness of a great set of crimes, finding that healthy balance that keeps the reader wanting to know more. Jessica Yardley takes the protagonist’s seat and does so in fine form. Her wittiness is balanced with a work ethic like no other. She is in it for the long haul, not the praise or adoration. That she has had much placed at her feet in years past is another thing that keeps her going, though she is careful to conceal that as much as possible. Sharp in the courtroom, Jessica hates those who do not take the law seriously or seek to protect the weak and vulnerable, but she is also aware that she cannot save the world. Other gritty characters find themselves in the web of this book, developing their own backstories and complement Jessica’s effectively. I am eager to see how things progress, as this is supposedly the debut of a new series. The story was quite strong and took some wonderful turns that kept me guessing, as the court case seems almost to come apart on numerous occasions. Methos tells the story so effortlessly and left me wanting to know more, while pacing things out so that I am not too sure what to expect next. This is a great legal thriller and those who dislike serial murders may actually be able to put them aside for the great narrative and short chapters that push things along so effectively. I am eager to see what else this series brings, though I realise that I will have to be patient.

Kudos, Mr. Methos, for another great thriller. I am surely keeping an eye out to see what else you have in mind for your fans!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Shotgun Lawyer, by Victor Methos

Nine stars

My love of the legal thrillers by Victor Methos continues with this novel, whose poignant topic left me transfixed throughout. Peter Game is a personal injury attorney in Salt Lake City with something to prove, at least to those who seek representation by a solo practitioner who will never settle for anything less than a payout. When he is approached by a woman seeking assistance with a legal matter, he is intrigued and wonders if he can help. However, this is like no case he has ever argued, as the woman’s son was gunned down at an elementary school and she seeks to sue the gun manufacturer. The law is clear and Congress has chimed in to ensure this case will die before it gets off the ground, something that Game discusses with the woman. That being said, she wants to make a difference for others and will not rest until some responsibility is laid at the hands of the company that released the gun onto the open market. Armed with gumption and a wonderfully unique clerk he found at the local law school, Peter Game is ready to fight for his client. The legal knots and mazes placed before him will not deter Game, who knows that he has nothing to lose. While he seeks to keep the scraps of his personal life together, the case gains momentum and national attention, which only adds pressure to the trial and forces Peter to wonder what will happen if he fails. It’s gun laws in the spotlight again, but this David versus Goliath trial is not being fought with slingshots. Rather, it’s an assault rifle against a pea shooter, and there’s no produce to arm the straw. Methos does a wonderful job with his delivery and keeps the reader guessing, as all things legal and political come to the forefront. Recommended to those who love a gritty legal thriller, as well as readers who have come to admire Victor Methos.

Originally discovered through a banner on Goodreads, I have come to find that Victor Methos might be my ‘diamond’ author find of the year. His novels are not only captivating, but their subject matter tells a story that is relevant today. Methos uses his legal experience to shine a light on some of the more technical aspects of the piece, but does not shy away from showing just how gritty things can get. Peter Game is similar to many of the other lawyers Methos uses, a man who refuses to back down when he feels he has an angle. That being said, reality is not lost on him, nor is the fact that many will dismiss him when given the opportunity. The legal matter eats away at Game throughout, as does the struggle of his personal life, which cannot take a break while he argues for better gun laws. Methos makes his protagonist both vulnerable and strong as steel within the pages of this novel, tying his passion for the law to an obvious inability to keep himself above water when it comes to his son. There are a few others who make the novel even better, with their unique backstories and quirks that only add to the enjoyment by the reader. These secondary characters offer insight and flavour the narrative in such a way that Methos is able to inject twists when needed to add depth to the already strong story. The plot was well-crafted and showed some central legal arguments from a new perspective. With his usual Utah setting, Methos matches the conservative values of a state with some less rigid thinking, surely an explosive mix. One can only hope that he has many more ideas, as I am fully committed to seeing where this master of the legal thriller will take his fans next.

Kudos, Mr. Methos, as you continue to impress me with your writing. Legal and courtroom thrillers coming from you are surely some of the best novels I have found to date this year.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

A Gambler’s Jury, by Victor Methos

Eight stars

In another of his stunning legal thrillers, Victor Methos ekes out a unique approach to the law with a case that will keep the reader curious throughout. Dani Rollins is a brash lawyer whose clients may be sitting as criminal defendants, but are never certain to face jail time. She fights the good—and dirty—fight each day, though sometimes cannot distinguish which side she wants to join when it comes to fraternizing with those who pay her salary. When Teddy Thorne and his family enter her office, Rollins is baffled. Thorne is seventeen and has an intellectual impairment, though is being charged with dealing over 8 kgs of cocaine. Oblivious to all of this, Thorne wants only to share his love of movies and early-morning cartoons. When Rollins agrees to take the case, she is baffled as to why the judge would automatically agree to negate juvenile court. As the case progresses, it soon appears obvious that something odd is taking place, as Thorne is abandoned by his family and the court seems ready to fast-track a trial and conviction. Balancing a shaky home life, Rollins soon realises that this case might be too much for her, as she is fighting against a well-built brick wall. With nothing to lose, save a night in jail for contempt, Dani Rollins is prepared to find out what ulterior motives are being used and how Teddy Thorne is being railroaded for someone else’s benefit. A well-paced piece that Methos uses to open the eyes of the reader at every turn. Recommended for those who love a good legal thriller, as well as readers who enjoy Victor Methos and his writing.

I stumbled onto Victor Methos a while back and find that I can never get enough of his books. Filled not only with great writing but poignant cases, Methos shows that his work as a lawyer is not lost. The themes that emerge are ones that the reader can enjoy or hate depending on their mood. Dani Rollins is a wonderful protagonist, as she takes no prisoners and is always on the defensive. Gritty and determined, Rollins is always looking for the loophole that will keep her client safe, even if that means sacrificing her own freedom from a judge’s contempt citation. She balances work with a home life that sees her trying to process a pending divorce, but never gives up on either. Her courtroom magic might be diluted by a corrupt legal system, but she forges onwards as best she can. Other characters create a wonderful addition to the storyline and they help to highlight the legal pitfalls of the system. There is much to say on the topic and Methos has chosen well with his cast of characters. The story is one some may call far-fetched and completely fabricated, but Methos assures readers in the author’s note that it is founded in reality. With a strong narrative and wonderful plots, Methos explores the law and all its faults. Sure to captivate many, Methos is one author not to dismiss when looking for superior legal thrillers.

Kudos, Mr. Methos, for another great legal piece. I am addicted to all you have to share.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Mercy (Brigham Theodore #2), by Victor Methos

Eight stars

I am still riding the high of discovering Victor Methos and am happy I returned to read his two legal thrillers set in Salt Lake City. This second book packs as much punch as the debut, while pulling on the heart strings of those readers who wish to be pulled in. Brigham Theodore has set himself up for success, still fairly new to the legal profession. After the untimely death of his previous boss, Theodore has set-up with two colleagues to run their own firm. His reputation for being a passionate criminal defence attorney has earned him some decent work, including the case of Ted Montgomery, who is accused of murdering his terminally ill wife. Theodore must use all his powers of reasoning to understand how to approach this case, as Ted does not deny filling his wife with morphine, but states that it was at her wish, when the doctors could not help her end the excruciating pain. Up against a District Attorney still out for blood, Theodore will have to act fast and use all he knows to help shape the case in his favour. While trying to juggle that, a major event at the firm almost knocks him off his track and forces some real introspection about the law and how conniving it can be. When some evidence comes to light, Ted does not want it used, but it might be the only way to keep the jury from convicting him. Brigham Theodore may be new to the profession, but he has a lifetime of experience as it relates to saving one’s skin. Another great piece by Victor Methos, which pulls the reader into story from the opening pages. Recommended for those who love a good legal thriller, as well as the reader who enjoys something they could complete in a single sitting.

Methos continues to work well with various legal topics, bringing his experience as a lawyer into his characters and plot lines. Brigham Theodore is again at the helm and entertains the reader as he educates them on what he has learned. He may be somewhat ‘wet behind the ears’, but is also determined to fight for what is right, earning him quite the reputation in the Utah legal community. In this novel, his morals and judgement is tested at every turn, though he refuses to be swayed by the pressure of his legal superiors. Theodore struggles with his personal life, though he is trying to piece all the moving parts together effectively. There are a number of of other characters who make am impact and help move the story along efficiently. Gritty prosecutors seek to box Theodore into a corner while the numerous clients who come to the office have their own interesting legal issues that require immediate answers. A strong narrative is matched with a case no green lawyer has any chance of winning, which comes to deliver a wonderful story that does not let-up at all. Methos knows how to craft a great novel and uses the courtroom effectively to tell the story and its pitfalls. I am happy that I came back to try some more Victor Methos and hope others find the time to read his work.

Kudos, Mr. Methos, another great piece. I’ll have to come back again soon to see what else you have up your sleeve.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Neon Lawyer (Brigham Theodore #1), by Victor Methos

Eight stars

I was intrigued when I discovered Victor Methos last month and vowed that I would come back to try some more of his work. Stumbling upon a short legal thriller, I thought that this would be the perfect addition to my vacation reading list. Brigham Theodore has just passed the Utah Bar and the ink on his certification is still drying as he seeks employment. While many of the firms in Salt Lake City snub him, he finds one willing to take a chance on him. Handed a murder trial in his first week, Theodore is in full panic mode, but can only hope that what he’s read about criminal procedure will be enough. A young woman is accused of gunning down the man who is set to have raped and murdered her six year-old daughter. With five witnesses, Theodore will have a hard time arguing her innocence, but is ready to do whatever he can. Arguing diminished capacity, Theodore enters the courtroom as green as they come and stumbles through the trial agains a man set to be the next District Attorney. While Theodore may be new to the profession, he is not completely inept and pulls out some interesting legal arguments to intrigue the jury. It will take more than a few unique legal tricks to keep Theodore’s client from facing the death penalty, but his willing to do what he can to help a woman full of guilt and agony at the loss of the only thing she holds dear. Methos is strong with his delivery and keeps the reader guessing as the story progresses. Recommended for the reader who enjoys a good legal thriller, as well as those who enjoy something compact for easy reading.

It was a Goodreads banner that led me to Victor Methos and I am happy to say that this second novel was as impactful as the first. Methos works well with the subject matter and compresses it into a story that could be read in a single day. Brigham Theodore has much to offer in this piece, though his wet behind the ears nature can something offer a stumbling block to a legal blockbuster. Theodore is still unsure how to handle himself and the cases at hand, but he is determined to find answers and stumbles into the arms of a woman who can guide him through the maze that is criminal law. Without being too optimistic, Theodore can only hope that the law he studied is applicable in the courtroom, though he is faced with a prosecutor who is out for blood. In this mid-length novel, there are a great deal of other characters who make am impact and help move the story along. From the accused who is trying to process what she may have done, to the prosecutor who has more to worry about than this simple case, and even a fellow member of the firm who uses his naïveté to her advantage, Methos offers much on which the write can build a better understanding for the story and the law. With a strong narrative that does not stop throughout and a plot that pits the hapless lawyer against the legal system, Methos knows how to craft a great novel. In a piece whose central focus is the courtroom, the story turns on the smallest thing. I am happy that I came back to try some more Victor Methos. With a second novel in the series, I am ready to leap right in.

Kudos, Mr. Methos, another great piece. I have enjoyed both pieces greatly and will read the second book in this series eagerly to see how it fares.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Hallows, by Victor Methos

Eight stars

New authors always arouse such intrigue for me, particularly when they write well in a genre I enjoy. Victor Methos is one such author and this legal thriller was not only captivating, but it flowed well and kept me attune to the story until the final page turn. Living the high life in Miami, Tatum Graham has it all, including a long list of clients seeking a criminal defence attorney who is ready to do whatever it takes to win. While Graham has that gumption, something seems to be eating away at him, so much so that he flees the area after a win and never looks back. His destination? The small Utah community he called home as a child, which has been collecting dust for close to two decades. When he pulls into town, much is the same, but there are some significant differences, including the woman he was dating before he left in the dead of night. With the town rocked by its first murder in a decade, Graham is convinced to lend a hand and serves as a consulting prosecutor for the fledgling county attorney’s office, who are left trying to build a murder case against two young men, one of whom is connected with more money than can be reflected on a balance sheet. Working with a few young attorneys, Graham does all he can to bring justice for the 17 year-old victim, whose personal life is anything but pristine. Still, all victims deserve a voice, even if the evidence against the suspects is flimsy. Working with less than ideal circumstances and under pressure, Graham must develop a case and have it heard in this small town, where all eyes are watching him, literally. Methos does a wonderful job to paint a captivating picture of the case at hand, as well as central characters who resonate with the reader. Recommended to those who like swift legal thrillers, as well as the reader who enjoys something that wastes little time during the reading experience.

It was a banner on Goodreads that led me to find this book, one that I have thoroughly enjoyed, Methos works well within the confines of the writing experience to bring a story to the reader that is unlikely to be soon forgotten. The Tatum Graham character has all the workings of a strong protagonist, where the glitz and glamour are humbled when he returns to his hometown. Graham has the aura around him to present a strong case and uses those skills for ‘good’, rather than to defend those who have the money to purchase certain perspectives. Throughout, Graham refers to a book he is writing about trial work, something that offers tidbits of insight into legal maneuvers within the courtroom. With a personal connection to the town, one can expect Graham to show his hand and emotional side, which is anything but superficial. With ghosts from his past returning on a daily basis, Graham must face it all, head-on. Other characters show great development, as they shape the story and complement Tatum Graham, particularly those who are still in town and react to his return. Methos uses these relationships to contrast the intensity of the legal story found within the novel and one can only hope that other novels work the same way. There is a great revelation about life as well as the legal side of the story through all these individuals coming together. The story was well-crafted and showed insight throughout, with some central legal arguments as well as loopholes used to develop strong narratives. Victor Methos knows his stuff and presents it well, using characters to deliver on a strong set of arguments that the reader cannot help but want to understand. With a small-town courtroom setting, the story turns on the smallest thing and the outcome is anything but a foregone conclusion. I am eager to see what else Methos has written and how this story fits into the larger picture.

Kudos, Mr. Methos, for a wonderful debut for me. I want to try more of your work and can only hope that there is a commonality in the quality of all your work!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons