Archive for March 25, 2013


Posted: March 25, 2013 in Book Awards, review, USA

71-HEXQ9M1L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_I find that the mainstream media and large book chains continue to push the same old books with the same old blurbs about books that frequently turn out to be disappointing.

I am much more likely to find a new author worth reading from bloggers posts and recommendations, and so it turned out with Robert Dugoni’s Murder One. I was inspired to read this novel by a post at Bill Selnes excellent blog Mysteries and More From Saskatchewan about the fairly new Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. 

This prize to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of the classic To Kill A Mockingbird  written by Alabama native Nelle Harper Lee, has been awarded twice; in 2011 to John Grisham for The Confession, and in 2012 to Michael Connelly for The Fifth Witness. But Bill pointed out that a poll  of the Alabama Bar Association Journal readers preferred Robert Dugoni’s Murder One. I needed no more encouragement to read this novel but because I haven’t read The Fifth Witness yet I will give my opinion about the award at a later date. Murder One is a fine legal thriller as attorney David Sloane, recovering from the murder of his wife Tina, is asked by attractive fellow attorney Barclay Reid to take her case for wrongful death against drug dealer Filyp Vasiliev, who she holds responsible for the death of her drug addicted daughter. Vasiliev has escaped prosecution for drug dealing on a technicality, but the burden of proof in a civil action is less demanding.

That this warrant was in part based upon speculation by Drug Enforcement Agents that Mr Vasiliev associated with members of organized crime-specifically hlpRussian mafia-is equally reprehensible and a generalization no less offensive to the Russian community than it has been to the Italian and Asian communities.

Vasiliev is found shot in the back of his head, Barclay [American female names can be confusing] is arrested and asks David Sloane, who has become her lover, to defend her in the criminal case. Sloane, a civil attorney, has never tackled a criminal case before and is tested by the complexities that arise.

Upon entering the back room, Stafford noted the single hole in the sliding-glass door, calling it a defect. They were trained not to say ‘”bullet hole”, as it could be considered a conclusion that a good defense attorney might later try to exploit.

This is an excellent legal thriller with strong well drawn characters, and the sort of forensic detail that is contained in the best of American TV crime series. As someone who enjoyed the Perry Mason series this blend of police procedural, legal thriller and courtroom drama was a pleasant diversion from dark Nordic angst and Nazi atrocities. The intriguing characters struggling to deal with personal tragedies, and an interesting series of plot twists made this a very satisfying read.