Tuesday, September 3, 2013


This is the second volume of a trilogy about a retired San Francisco cop, Harlan Donnally.  I haven't yet read the first, Act of Deceit, but that didn't matter as this works well as a stand-alone.  Having said that, I'll be reading the first book very soon because I want to know more about Donnally.

The book begins with Donnally and his friend, SF cop Ramon Navarro, in the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge where they can see a body hanging.  The victim's pants are down around his ankles and plainly visible is what for the sake of delicacy I will call priapism.  Apparently the object was to humiliate him, something he richly deserved as a sleezy lawyer who never let the law or any sense of ethics stop him from making money.  His name was Mark Hamlin.  He had left word with his assistant and a note in his desk that if something happened to him, he wanted Donnally to investigate, no one else.

Donnally had been shot in the hip in the line of duty several years earlier.  He had retired, left the city, settled in a small town in northern California, and opened a small restaurant there.  Still he stays in the city a few times each month because his girlfriend, Janie, a hospital psychiatrist, lives in his home there.  He is there visiting her and doing little repair jobs around the house when he gets the call about Hamlin's wishes.

The D.A., Navarro, Donnally, and a judge they trust decide to appoint straight arrow Donnally a "special master" to discover who murdered Hamlin, but not get into attorney-client privilege issues or complications.  Ha!  Just try to do that and still solve the crime.  

I would call this one a thinking person's kind of legal thriller and it's a winner.  Author Steven Gore gets into not only what happened but particularly why and looks deep into the characters' backgrounds for answers to who they are at the time of this murder.  There is some danger and some shooting, but mainly it's the story of Donnally and the other major characters involved.  And it's the story of corruption, a widespread evil that hurts mainly legal clients but also investigators and other lawyers.

Highly recommended
E-book released July 30, 2013
Source:  HarperCollins, Publishers 

1 comment:

  1. I think books in a well written series can be read out of order. This one is new to me but it sounds good!