REVISION – I’ve rated this an A on my new scale.
I don’t usually rate crime novels higher than 7 (except for James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novels, Alexander McCall Smith’s Ladies #1 Detective Agency books and the best of John Grisham’s novels) but this one is different. In general, it’s not more “stylish,” but there is one literary element which is very unique to crime novels. And I think it’s more compelling because of the heavy psychological thriller aspects in a legal thriller.
First person protagonists are always a bit of a problem because we have to deal with the question of if they are reliable or not. Alex Miller is a high-powered defense attorney who has been employed by Michael Ohlig, a rich, charismatic and very powerful friend of his recently deceased father to represent him in an ugly stock manipulation lawsuit. Although Alex is an experienced and cynical lawyer, he really wants to believe that the Ohlig is innocent until Alex’s mother dies suddenly. It turns out that she has been having an affair with Ohlig. At this point Alex seems not to be doing what he can to prove Ohlig’s innocence. This is only the first conflict of interest.
Another thread is that although Alex is married with a child and his wife is deeply in love with him, he works long hours with his beautiful assistant and becomes – well – overly involved.
So now we have a man who is defending his late mother’s lover and his father’s friend while he’s having an affair with someone himself. As I said, this is a very complex story about a complex system and complex people. I’m not sure that LeDoux got all the trial stuff correct (objections and so forth) but the book as a whole was one of the best I’ve read in a long, long time.