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In this follow up to last year’s Corrupt Practices former child star turned attorney Parker Stern is still facing the same crippling stage fright that has him avoiding the courtroom. But when a famous video game designer reaches out to hire him, Parker finds it impossible to say no.

Poniard is the anonymous entity behind Abduction!, a game that proposes to make the player the investigator in the unsolved disappearance of actress Felicity McGrath. In the game, Poniard accuses well-known Hollywood personality William Bishop (aka William the Conqueror) of killing McGrath and now faces a libel suit in return. When Parker finds out that his ex is prosecuting, he agrees to take on the defense even when his fears about appearing in the courtroom start to seem minimal compared to the danger he faces in taking on William Bishop.

The tangled web of Hollywood happenings, cults, and courtroom drama makes Rotstein’s series a standout in thrillers (legal or otherwise).

Parker Stern is intriguing in that he has a tendency to attract danger in spite of everything. Here he is actively avoiding trial by working for a group that aims to settle disputes before getting as far as a courtroom, when he’s dragged not only into a courtroom battle but one that pits him against a man who is by all accounts completely ruthless. And why does he agree? First because of a woman and second because his new client threatens to expose a secret Parker has been trying to hide most of his life: that he is the once famous child star Parky Gerald.

Parker’s “Parky” persona is a big part of the plot of Corrupt Practices and I would definitely suggest reading that one before diving into its sequel. Both books are well worth it as Rotstein has a knack for clever storylines and engaging character development. I should note, though, that the Parker Stern series is so far a fairly dark one. There are elements in both novels that likely will not appeal to fans of cozier tales.

6/14 Becky Lejeune

RECKLESS DISREGARD by Robert Rotstein.  Seventh Street Books (June 3, 2014). ISBN 978-1616148812. 352p.

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