Title: Wolf’s Revenge by Lachlan Smith
Genre: Currently #21042 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers & Suspense, Crime
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Mysterious Press and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Wolf’s Revenge – Cover needs work
I definitely enjoy a legal thriller every now and then and picked up Wolf’s Revenge, the fifth in the series of the Leo Maxwell mysteries by Lachlan Smith. The courtroom drama alone is worth the read, but the plot regarding the Aryan Brotherhood was as new to me as the author and his series. The protagonist is an attorney in the Bay Area of California and has inherited a dubious legacy from both his older brother (now handicapped) and his father (now deceased). His clients are just as apt to be corrupt politicians as well as gangland leaders.
First, I had a difficult time getting through the first two chapters. Too much introduction, back story, explaining how it all came down to this–current situation. You have to hang on until he is called in to defend a young woman accused of the murder of an Aryan member.
Suddenly, the plot line, even the protagonist changes from being a storyteller delivering information to being an involved main character, and rather than an spectator, a proactive lawyer with to up-to-his-neck involvement.
The protagonist, Leo Maxwell, would rather not take on the case, funded by the AB, as he would really prefer severing ties with the Brotherhood and sequestering those remaining of his family–his brother, his brother’s wife, and his niece well away from the clutches of anyone associated with the prison-based gang.
As the writing style matures and relaxes into the intrigue, the dialogue becomes natural and it’s a little easier to visualize the scene and the main characters including the antagonist(s), and there certainly appears no shortage of those.
The author conveys the struggle within Leo as he’s torn over how to fully protect and do the best for his client (never mind the men paying for her defense or why), and the protection of his own family whom he determines must leave the area during the trial. Difficult to believe, however, that given the range and the lack of moral compass of the men involved that they could be safe anywhere given they didn’t even leave the state.
The reader might become embroiled in figuring out who is the good guy–or is there one? It would appear even the good guys are not. The trial is a back and forth struggle, Leo making a dent only to lose to the next challenge and it’s difficult to say which way this jury will go. His client is only 16. Even if he wins this case, how can it have an equitable ending for her?
Just as we are being lead to the hold-onto-your-seat climax and are wondering how in the world did it come to this (perhaps a compromise, the change of Leo’s attitude), he goes gung ho hero an totally shifts the paradigm in an ending you did NOT see coming.
But okay, so many questions left. Are these to be solved in the next of the series? This is a book about a slice of life you didn’t want to know about and perhaps an unwelcome, albeit necessary education.
I have to say this novel starts out slow. I wasn’t sure who was narrating, wasn’t sure what to think of him. Wasn’t sure I liked him, and decided I didn’t. Then, the whole thing began crafting an interesting direction–oh, wait a minute!–and I was glad I hung in there.
I downloaded this novel from Grove Atlantic-Mystery Press and NetGalley and appreciated very much the opportunity to read and review. Recommended as a legal thriller, crime and mystery, suspense novel.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Lachlan Smith is a lawyer who writes novels–and it shows in the realism of his courtroom chronicles. He was a Richard Scowcroft Fellow in the Stegner Program at Stanford and graduated from law school at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall. He worked in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office while in law school. He protests that he is an entertainer, not a documentarian, so nothing in these books come from real life. I really like his quote regarding what is real, “the drama of idealism colliding with the moral ambiguity of criminal law, and the sleepless anxiety of a young lawyer who has taken on far more than he can handle.” And that nails the disquieting fear portrayed by Leo in Wolf’s Revenge. ©2017 Virginia Williams