Title: Deep Zero by V. S. Kemanis, a Dana Hargrove Legal Mystery
Publisher: Opus Nine Books
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2018
Source: Opus Nine Books and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Deep Zero – Cover covers scene from book
It’s 2009 and prosecutor Dana Hargrove is managing a full caseload while balancing husband Evan Goodhue, also an attorney, and their two teenage children. Social medium is growing, luring disaffected youngsters into experimenting with online communication in a new and torturous manner. Dana is a newly elected DA in a small town in New York who ran on a successful ticket of controlling youthful drinking, driving, substance abuse, and domestic violence.
The hook in the first chapter grabs your attention and pulls you into a plot that promises to be a legal mystery with a couple of interesting cases. Cyber-bullying takes center stage when a high school student is discovered deceased. Introduction is made to supporting characters struggling with their own cases, one of whom is Vesma, who seems to have some ancient history to Dana perhaps fully developed in a previous novel. It is Vesma’s daughter, Ginger, and Dana’s son, Travis, who chair and coordinate a solid, united effort in their high school to ensure that classmates attending a Valentine party get home safely.
As the investigation gets deeper into the subject of cyber-bullying, however, the plot seems to take a one-eighty and concentrate on unattended teenagers with too much freedom, money, and ego. Dialogue genuinely sounds like teen conversation, alright, and I guess we need to know all these details to sort out the rest as it comes back together again in a rather awkward climax, almost skipping over an issue or two that appeared to be the original plot.
Dana is a hands on mother, loves her boy and girl, and hubby seems more than a supportive male figure in the household, built on upper-moderate means. She tries to engage her teens in conversation that they will share. Vesma is struggling with a case that has kept her broke and she is divorced with Ginger at home. Ginger often shuns an empty home after school to go to her grandfather’s, who suffers from dementia, but loves his granddaughter. The characters of more teens involved in the underlying plot illicit sympathy for the most part while examining the issue of underage drinking and illegal prescriptions.
I had a little difficulty with this book when it seemed to get a bit far afield. When the climax came, court cases resolved, victims faced reparation, and there were a few happy endings. This was a fairly new legal issue in that time frame, and they were busy finding a verdict that would satisfy both the courts and the people. Timely subject (cyber-bullying), but perhaps the plot got a bit scattered, and I’m not sure whether more fully directed to parents than to their teens.
I downloaded this book from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those interested in legal mysteries.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point five of Five Stars
The Author: (From Goodreads Author page) V.S. Kemanis has had an exciting and varied career in the law and the arts. As an attorney, she has been a criminal prosecutor for county and state agencies, argued criminal appeals for the prosecution and defense, conducted complex civil litigation, and worked for appellate judges and courts, most recently as a supervising editor of appellate decisions. Ms. Kemanis is also an accomplished dancer of classical ballet, modern jazz, and contemporary styles, and has performed, taught and choreographed in California, Colorado and New York. Legal thrillers Thursday’s List, Homicide Chart, and Forsaken Oath feature prosecutor Dana Hargrove who, like the author, juggles the competing demands of family with a high-powered professional career in the law.
Short fiction by Ms. Kemanis has been published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Crooked Road Volume 3, and several noted literary journals. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Her award-winning short fiction is available in four collections, Dust of the Universe, Everyone But Us, Malocclusion, and Love and Crime. ©2018 V Williams