Backstory, by William L. Myers Jr.

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William L. Myers Jr., andOceanview Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Happy to read another book by William L. Myers Jr., I turned to this standalone, which packs just as much punch as his Philadelphia legal thrillers. Myers shows that he is versatile in his writing and grips the reader from the opening pages with this story that has a number of twists to keep things on point. Fans of his series will see some of the same spark in this piece, which will surely solidify their admiration for William L. Myers Jr.

It is all a blur to Jackson Robert Hunter, but when he opens his eyes outside a bar, all he has to show for it is a sore head and no memory. He’s soon told that his wife has committed suicide, but Hunter has an inkling that it was staged as part of a murder plot, with the killer still out there. He’s determined to find out who was behind this and ensure justice is served.

As he begins to investigate, Hunter realises that his amnesia has been cover something even more problematic, namely his own sordid past. His marital history is anything but pristine, with betrayal towards his wife and a lover he left hanging on at least one occasion. Broken hearts are only part of the issue, as there are a number of dirty cops who turned the other way, ready to exact their own revenge on him. Could his wife’s murder be the cost of it all?

From a small community in Kansas, Hunter finds himself in various parts of the US, discovering family secrets he did not know existed. His hopes of tracking down the killer is mired in his own dark past and those who remember all too well what he did to them. His chase intensifies as he realises that he is also trying to piece together his own life, which is anything but reputable. Myers offers another winner that is sure to keep the reader flipping pages well into the night.

There is something about Myers’ writing that pulls me in every time. His direct approach and wonderful storytelling makes for a great reading experience, no matter the topic at hand. A clear cut narrative offers the reader something wonderful to use as a guide and provides ample time to get excited about the experience until the final page turn, when all comes crashing together. Whether this is a deviation from his Philadelphia series or the start of something new, I am eager to see what else Myers has to offer in the coming years.

Jackson Robert Hunter is a wonderful character whose life is full of gaps, primarily related to the amnesia he suffered when his wife died. He progresses throughout the book, offering both personal backstory and some development in the hunt for his wife’s killer, providing the reader something of a larger picture. Hunter’s struggles are real, though he does not know them all, leaving him to meander through a darkness he cannot easily navigate. Myers effectively creates and dismantles his protagonist throughout the story, leaving the reader to judge what sort of man they have before them.

I have always enjoyed William L. Myers Jr. for his writing and the spin he places on his stories. While I am used to something highly legal in nature, this was a great move away from it, offering the reader a different flavouring. A strong narrative is complemented by great characters and a stirring plot. The chapters are succinct enough for the reader to want to push through, though also offer the chance to take a momentary rest. Myers spins a tale like few others I have known and makes the reading experience enjoyable. I am eager to see what he has next on his publication radar, hoping it will be just as enticing.

Kudos, Mr. Myers, for another great piece. You shine like few in the genre.

A Criminal Justice (Philadelphia Legal #4), by William L. Myers Jr.

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William L. Myers Jr., and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

I always enjoy a William L. Myers, Jr. legal thriller and this one did not disappoint. Tossing some of the key characters into new roles, Myers is able to keep the quality of his work high and the twists plentiful. When a powerful Philadelphia businessman is gunned down in his company’s parking lot, the news spreads quickly. While many are aghast as to who might have committed this cold-blooded act, the police have a suspect plucked directly from the vide footage. Prominent defence attorney, Mick Mcfarland, is arrested during a firm celebration, pulled out in cuffs before staff and clients. He is sure that he could not have done this, though it would appear that all the evidence points in his direction. While he is locked up, the firm begins their preparations for defending him, which includes looking under every possible rock. McFarland defended the victim’s brother in a murder case, though that created many tangled webs and much animosity. While witnesses and their stories evolve, Mick admits that he has a condition whereby he passes out without being aware of what’s happened, bringing into question whether he may have been caught on screen without knowing what he was doing. This gem is something the prosecution has yet to discover. While Mick is in prison he finds himself in a complicated triangle as well, where two rival gangs seek to bring one another down and he, Mick, is their messenger. As the case goes to trial, the evidence is quite strong and Mick will have to rely on some tangential arguments surrounding a long-held vendetta to drake him, if he hopes to be set free. The courtroom is sure to be full of last-second maneuvers, though this might take a miracle. Myers does so well recounting this thriller, pulling the reader in and leaving them guessing until the final reveal. Recommended to fans of this series, as well as readers who want a well-crafted legal thriller whose momentum never stops.

I have been a fan of the series since the first book debuted to much fanfare. William L. Myers, Jr. has a knack for writing in such a way that the reader is hooked by the early chapters and vows to read at break-neck speed simply to know how things will turn out. Mick McFarland is a great character, whose legal prowess is turned on its head when he becomes the accused. His medical issues are only one of many things that Mick will have to face throughout the piece, as he tries to stay one step ahead of the prosecution and three in front of the gangs who are ready to see him killed. McFarland is an ethical man, but is willing to bend the rules when he feels it would be helpful, careful not to sell himself too short. A handful of other key characters return for another instalment of the series, reprising wonderful roles that series fans have come to know so well. Myers weaves a story using their unique characteristics and leaves the reader enthralled until the very end. New and exciting faces also make their way onto the pages of this book, some good and others as dirty as they come. The story moved well, though some of the tangled web plot lines were less than crisp, leaving me to wonder if Myers simply needed to fill some pages, rather than develop sharp and poignant dialogue and narrative progression. Still, it held my attention throughout and I was left wanting more. Set outside some of the more traditional locales I am used to with legal thrillers, Philadelphia comes alive and the reader can enjoy this backdrop as they try to piece together the case before the final pages.

Kudos, Mr. Myers, for another winner. I always enjoy when you come up on the reading radar, as you have yet to fail me!

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

A Killer’s Alibi (Philadelphia Legal #3), by William L. Myers Jr.

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William L. Myers Jr., and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

The reader can be assured of a well-developed legal thriller when William L. Myers Jr. is at the helm. His attention to detail and captivating stories keep the story enthralling until the final pages, and this book is no exception. When James ‘Jimmy’ Nunzio is found in a warehouse, holding a bloody knife with a body on the floor, there appears to be little doubt that he is to blame. A high-ranking official in a Philadelphia organized crime family, Nunzio has a long list of beefs, including a rival New York family, to whom the victim belongs. When Mick McFarland is called upon to serve as defence counsel, he is hesitant, though intrigued all the same. McFarland interviews his client, but is left feeling as though there is something missing from the story and Nunzio remains coy about certain aspects of that night, promising to reveal all in good time. Meanwhile, Mick’s wife and other law partner are involved in some Innocence Project Work. Darlene Dowd was convicted of murdering her abusive father years ago, but a deathbed letter from her own mother reveals that a neighbour may have some important evidence and the murder weapon. Piper McFarland and Susan Klein begin to explore this new evidence, in hopes of being able to free Darlene once and for all. With the help of the firm’s investigator, Piper and Susan learn that there is more to the story than an abused teenaged girl who resented her father’s actions and took justice into her own hands. While Mick is trying to plan for his own trial, he discovers that he may have taken on more than he can handle, placing himself and all those around him in a mafia squabble that can only end in bloodshed. Learning of an intended payback, Mick must do all he can to get to the bottom of this case—including this mystery evidence the defendant is holding—before more innocent people suffer the consequences. A powerful story, with great courtroom action, that does not relent until the final paragraph, Myers shows why he belongs at the top of his genre. Highly recommended for those who love substantive legal thrillers that seek not only to tell a story, but offer realistic characters to add depth.

I can remember stumbling upon Myers’ first novel and being fully engrossed. This was a story that had both substantial legal arguments and characters who were more than simply vessels to pull the narrative along. Myers has taken the time to flesh-out his characters and injects personal attributes to which the reader can surely relate. Mick McFarland is a wonderful father and husband, as well as an accomplished lawyer who does not shy away from controversy. While his mind does seek loopholes, he is not afraid to work or to spend time trying to help his clients, no matter their circumstances. His passion for the law and those around him can be seen throughout and he proves to be a wonderful protagonist sure to anchor this series for years to come. Other returning characters offer their own distinct flavours and propel the story forward at break-neck speed. The attentive reader will see some of the smaller characteristics that Myers injects to keep the story light, but not superficial. This helps keep things from getting stale or overly burdensome. Dealing with both sexual abuse and family blood feuds cannot be easy, though Myers tackles both and presents wonderful spins. There is a delicate balance that Myers has found, one the attentive reader will see as they progress through this novel. The story is strong and reads well, mixing light banter with serious legal arguments, as well as some personal subplots some of the characters must face. Myers has a way of writing in which chapters seem to melt away, though he does not shortchange with detail or plot development. Anyone new to Myers should probably start at the beginning of the series—more to learn of the character and plot developments from their infancy—though I suppose this book could act as a standalone. Speaking of that, this book does stand apart from others in its genre and William L. Myers Jr. should be an author with whom readers familiarize themselves. It is worth the time and effort!

Kudos, Mr. Myers, for another winner. I am pleased to have been able to experience an advance copy of this book, as it allows me to drum up additional support ahead of publication.

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

An Engineered Injustice, by William L. Myers, Jr.

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William L. Myers, Jr., and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After his sensational debut legal thriller, William L. Myers, Jr. is back with another explosive novel that is sure to grab the attention of the reader from the opening lines. Vaughn Coburn is a young and fairly astute lawyer in Philadelphia whose meticulous work and passion for the job show on a daily basis. Arriving back at the firm one afternoon, Vaughn finds everyone glued to the television as they watch the latest developments in a fatal passenger train crash. Soon thereafter, the dreaded phone call comes, his cousin, Eddie, was the engineer and is being blamed for the entire event. As the body count mounts and media outlets are quick to point blame, Vaughn hastily accepts the request to represent Eddie. How could he not have seen the ninety-ton train car ahead of him? Might he have been distracted by his cell phone? When his blood test comes back, Eddie is clear of any narcotics or alcohol, but nothing makes sense, and the current state of amnesia is not helping Vaughn put together a reasonable case. Turning to an unlikely source, Vaughn begins to peel back the layers while two high-profile attorneys begin gathering up suits against Amtrak and Eddie. Problems only get worse when it turns out one of Philly’s finest mobsters had a relative on board and vows retribution. Vaughn can see no light at the end of the tunnel, but he will have to find something quickly, as he owes it to Eddie to clear him of this crime. A shared secret seems to cement Vaughn’s commitment to a man who has had a string of bad luck. With the country watching and the noose fit and ready, Vaughn must do the impossible and explain how Eddie Coburn could be innocent of such a straightforward crash. Might this be too much, even for a legal go-getter, to handle? Myers does a sensational job at piecing the story together, pacing the narrative in such a way that the reader will not be able to help but demand a little more with each page turn. Perfect for those who loved the debut novel and fans of a near-perfect legal thriller.

I came across Myers’ work earlier this year when I saw his novel, A Criminal Defence, receiving a great deal of hype. I loved that novel and hoped to find myself with a copy of this, the follow-up, in short order. Myers uses his knowledge of both the law and Philadelphia to pull the reader into the middle of something realistic. Using strong characters, Myers is able to offer up a wonderfully complex legal web. Vaughn Coburn is the ideal young lawyer to forge into his legal minefield. His past grit and determination paired with a desire to see justice done helps move the story forward, even when things appear bleak. Working alongside many others, both in the legal field and those who are trying to sink Eddie’s case, Vaughn is able to shape the story and keep the reader wondering. Layering much backstory into the narrative, Myers portrays both Coburn men as inseparable, though also having taken paths that could not have differed more. Pompous legal minds and gritty Amtrak employees balance the hope that Vaughn seeks to bring to Eddie’s case, leaving the reader to make the final decision as to what they will accept. Turning to the story itself, Myers offers his superior writing abilities to weave together a strong piece that has the ability to pull on the reader’s heartstrings. The horror of such an incident, a fatal train accident, adds dramatic flair to an already high-impact thriller. Myers uses not only his skill but draws on real-life events to deliver a novel that will be talked about long after it hits bookstands around the world. Mixing shoer chapters with those seen to develop the already strong foundation, Myers ensures the reader is presented with a high caliber novel that does not fade at any point. I can only hope that many others will discover Myers and increase his fan base. That said, it might leave some leery of travelling the rails for the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Mr. Myers, for such a powerful legal thriller. I will be insisting that many people rush out to get their hands on this book soon. I trust that this will get rave reviews from others who enjoy your style and delivery.

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

A Criminal Defense, by William L. Myers, Jr.

Nine stars

Exploring the world of William L. Myers, Jr., I had hoped to be dazzled by his skills and dedication to the genre. Legal thrillers are a dime a dozen, but well-crafted ones are much harder to come by. Mick McFarland is a gritty Philadelphia lawyer trying to make the world a better place, one case at a time. However, he is in private practice, so his clients must also have the money to pay for his expert legal advice. While handling some meat and potatoes casework, a stunning bit of news hits the wire; a well-known investigative journalist, Jennifer Yamura has been found at the bottom of her stairs, dead. What’s worse, McFarland’s long-time friend, wealthy businessman David Hanson, was seen by the police fleeing out the back door. After being retained, McFarland starts in damage control mode, learning that Hanson is clear in his innocence, but that there was a sexual relationship in play with Yamura. However, early discussions and evidence points to the fact that Hanson could well have killed Yamura, or was at least in the house with her dead body and had been cleaning up any sign of his presence. McFarland goes into pitbull mode, but must stay one step ahead of his client and three of the salivating District Attorney’s Office, where senior ADA Devlin Walker has his eye on burying Hanson. While the case is progressing and heading towards a trial, McFarland must face a number of personal struggles involving various members of his family: a wife whose family is money rich but cannot see past their country club lifestyle, and a brother who is now the firm’s investigator, but who harbours a past filled with less than savoury decisions. As guilt exudes from Hanson’s pores, McFarland must trust that his friend is telling the truth and that he is innocent of murder. Could Yamura’s flashy news reports on dirty cops have met with retribution? Might there be another jealous lover who wanted her out of the way? Or, worst of all, might Hanson be colluding with others to cover-up this crime and lying to McFarland at every turn? Whatever the answers, McFarland will stop at nothing to craft ‘a criminal defense’. A stunning legal thriller that mixes all the ingredients to deliver a story that will keep the reader hooked until the bitter end, and what a twist awaits there! Myers is surely an author who knows how to connect with his audience and deliver a realistic account of life in criminal law.

This being his debut novel, I had to use this book as my first impressions of Myers. It serves as a wonderful starting point and the legal nuances embedded into the story keep the reader engaged. Myers is able to create a wonderful set of characters, developing them as the narrative builds. Mick McFarland is surely a lawyer of note, whose work ethic and personal foibles make for a highly entertaining protagonist. Myers develops him in many ways and does not shy away from offering the good, the bad, and the ugly, though not in equal measure. Branching out from there, Myers fills the story with a wonderful cross-section of legal minds, money-grubbing business folk, and those who see themselves as above the fray. Peppering them throughout the narrative allows the story to mutate into something more than a courtroom drama, as lives are placed in the balance. Myers is also keen on showing that a lawyer’s work is never tied to a single case, forcing a precarious juggling act to keep a firm afloat. McFarland is forced not only to deal with clients, but also other lawyers and shady witnesses, in hopes of providing the best defense that money can buy. Myers shows that his first foray into the genre has been a great success and I cannot wait for his follow-up, another standalone, out in the early part of 2018.

Kudos, Mr. Myers for such a wonderful opening salvo into the world of cutthroat readers and reviewers. Your legal know-how will surely propel you to the top of the pack, given time and great word of mouth.