THE HALLOWS by Victor Methos

July 20, 2019

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An absolutely grabbing novel that will not allow the reader to put it down until finished. The book deals with a high powered and very successful lawyer practicing in Miami that suddenly finds himself dissatisfied with his work when a client that he had successfully defended on a charge of murder walks out and immediately kills someone else.

Tatum Graham the lawyer just decides to give up the big bucks in Miami and go home to small town Utah where his roots are. Arriving there he meets an old flame of his who is working at the county attorney’s office and asks him as a favor to take on the role of a prosecutor in a murder case. Tatum knows the people involved and most importantly the girl killed and her father who is a friend of his father. In addition he visits his father with whom he has been estranged from for many years and who isnow suffering from cancer.

To round out a fascinating group of characters one of the two boys accused of the murder comes from a wealthy family and his father hires a top tier attorney to defend him. Not surprisingly Tatum has gone against that lawyer several times in court and the trial shapes up as a battle between titans. The depiction of the trial is just that; one expert attorney versus another as gifted as he is. The maneuvers between the two become a fascinating study of the reality of a trial where one man and than the other come out with twists and turns.

On the side is the rekindling of the romance between Tatum and his old girlfriend and the feelings each has harbored for many years. A very well done portrait of Tatum’s dad who is fighting his disease and trying to explain his attitude towards the son that he has kept at bay for a long time. This is one of the better handlings of a flawed individual and the treatment of the man adds to the story and what transpires. A very well done novel and without doubt a five star story.

7/19 Paul Lane

THE HALLOWS by Victor Methos. Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1542042741. 350p.



THE RECKONING by John Grisham

October 25, 2018

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The novel opens with Pete Banning going over to the Methodist Church he and his family attended and shooting and killing his friend the Reverend Dexter Bell. We immediately know what happened and basically what Grisham’s novel revolves around;  it says so on the book’s flap as well as on any description written about it. 

The why becomes a fascinating study in human relations and what factors can cause one man to kill another. The book is centered in a small town in the state of Mississippi just shortly after the end of World War II. Pete Banning has returned home a decorated hero, wanting only to resume his life with his beautiful wife and two children.  His is important enough to the story for Grisham to detail the facts behind his bravery. 

This is a well researched look at the events unfolding in the Philippinesat the time of the Bataan death march. A portrait of the horrid conditions in the internment camp in which Pete is held coupled with his heroic actions later in fighting the Japanese upon his escape is extremely well done. His character is molded by this phase of his life and may supply clues to his motivation in committing murder.

Pete’s children, his wife and his sister are effected by his actions. They are completely surprised at his lack of interest in defending himself at the trial convened to try him for murder. 

The novel is John Grisham at his peak exercising a literary talent second to none.  When is the next book coming out is the only question remaining for the reader and I second that opinion. 

10/18 Paul Lane

THE RECKONING by John Grisham. Doubleday (October 23, 2018).  ISBN 978-0385544153. 432p.



THE OUTSIDER by Anthony Franze

March 29, 2017

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Anthony Franze debut novel, The Advocate’s Daughter, was so good that it made my best books of 2016 list. I always worry about the so-called “sophomore slump” – writers generally have years to work on their first novel and a much, much tighter timeline for the second. I’m happy to report that The Outsider is a terrific legal thriller as well. And with the Supreme Court in the news, it’s also timely.

Franze is an attorney who has argued before the Supreme Court, and that’s where he sets his thrillers. He offers a wonderful backstage tour of our highest court, complete with notes at the end so you know what is true and what is made up. Plus his stories are riveting, as is the case here.

The “outsider” is Grayson Hernandez, a young man who graduated from a non-Ivy League law school and is working as a messenger in the Supreme Court building. Hernandez grew up in a poor part of D.C., and his best friends really related with S.E. Hinton’s Outsider. In fact, Hernandez’s nickname was Pony Boy.

The day he stumbles onto an assault against the Chief Justice in the parking lot changes his life – in more ways than is at first obvious. Hernandez saves the Chief Justice but the attacker escapes. Shaken, the Chief Justice decides to offer Hernandez a clerkship, the most sought after position for law school graduates.

Most, if not all, the clerks are from top tier law schools, the brightest of the brightest. Hernandez is bright, but had to stay home to help run his family business so those opportunities didn’t come his way. And then the Justice offers him some perks along with the job; his apartment in Georgetown, which comes with a new Audi. Hernandez is overwhelmed but the justice convinces him to accept the offer.

Hernandez loves his new job, discussing law with these brilliant scholars and the smartest one of all, the beautiful Lauren Hart. He has a hard time fitting in, of course, but the Justice offers advice from time to time and eventually he finds his place.

Meanwhile, it appears a serial killer is at work in the D.C. area, and the murder sites all have one thing in common; a feather quill pen, a gift that the justices present to all attorneys who come before them, is found at all the crime scenes. Hernandez is approached by the FBI to help, and he quickly gets in over his head.

There are enough plot twists to keep the pages turning and the suspense just keeps ratcheting up until the final denouement. If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, or just fast paced adrenaline reads, you won’t want to miss this one.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OUTSIDER by Anthony Franze. Minotaur Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-1250071668. 320p.


DAMAGED by Lisa Scottoline

September 5, 2016
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A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel, Book 4

This is the fourth entry into the rebranded Rosata & DiNunzio series, and the story focuses on Mary DiNunzio.

Her wedding to Anthony is just weeks away when a heartbreaking case drops into her lap. A janitor is suing Patrick O’Brien, a ten-year-old boy who is small for his age, severely dyslexic, and suffering from anxiety disorder. His grandfather, his guardian, hires Mary to put on his defense.

Opposing counsel is the reviled Nick Machiavelli, who is trying his damnedest to live up to his namesake. The boy is accused of coming after the janitor with scissors, but it quickly becomes apparent that the janitor has abused the boy.

When his grandfather dies of an insulin overdose, Patrick is the prime suspect. Mary wants to foster the boy but Anthony is in California, and neither of them is consulting the other about major life changes, which does not bode well for the couple.

Scottoline seems to be merging her family driven standalones with her legal series, and doing a fine job of it. She continues to be one of my go-to authors, I just love all her books.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

9/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DAMAGED by Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (August 16, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250099624. 416p.


NOBLE CHASE by Michael Rudolph

April 19, 2016


Beth Swahn has won her first big settlement for her client, Sloane, to the tune of over a hundred-million-dollars. But when Sloane’s boss, C.J. Leung, flies in from China to take her out to celebrate, she realizes that something is very wrong. He is under the impression that the settlement was just $30 million dollars.

Sloane has disappeared along with his banker girlfriend and the rest of the money. After a frantic Mayday call, both are presumed dead when their yacht supposedly sinks.

Furious and embarrassed, Beth is determined to find the money, and ends up working with Sloane’s son but isn’t at all sure he can be trusted, despite their mutual attraction. Meanwhile the law firm may be on the hook for the money, but Leung seems more interested in getting his files than in the money.

International money laundering, corruption, violence and a horrific tropical storm all combine to make this a breathless race to the finish line – and the money. Readers who enjoy John Grisham and Scott Turow will be satisfied.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

04/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NOBLE CHASE by Michael Rudolph. Ballantine Books (April 19, 2016). ISBN 978-1101884379. 320p.



April 12, 2016
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I  haven’t read a legal thriller this good in a long time.

Sean Serrat is a lawyer in Washington D.C. who has just moved from the public sector, where he argued several cases in front of the Supreme Court, to the private sector. His wife thinks he is a workaholic and moving to an office where he has a staff to do things for him should make their home life somewhat easier. At least until his name gets put on the short list for an opening on the Supreme Court itself.

The Serrats have three children, and their eldest, Abby, is a shining star almost ready to graduate law school, following in her parents’ footsteps. Sean’s wife gave up her career to be a stay at home mom, and she still is there for their teenage son Ryan as well as their youngest.

Then Abby goes missing and her body is found in the Supreme Court library. Her boyfriend, Malik Montgomery is a law clerk at the court and of course is the first suspect. When the cops find some evidence that points his way, he is arrested but Sean isn’t so sure he is the murderer. This adds another layer to the novel as his arrest brings in racial overtones to the case.

There are a lot of variables in this story and the pacing is relentless, making this an all nighter for me. The characters are well developed and the family scenes especially rang true. And I loved all the details about the Supreme Court, a place most of us don’t know much about (and be sure to read the notes at the end, but only after you read the book!)

This book put me in mind of The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer, his first book and still one of my favorite legal thrillers ever. Franze is in excellent company here and I look forward to more from this author.

3/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ADVOCATE’S DAUGHTER by Anthony Franze. Minotaur Books (March 22, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250071651.  320p.


Audio CD

COLD BARREL ZERO by Matthew Quirk

April 9, 2016
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A rapid fire novel about the military and two men posed against each other in a conflict generated by events in combat. John Hayes and Thomas Byrne were together in combat and were as close as men can be when allied in battling the enemy.


Byrne was a medic while Hayes was a Special Operations leader. Thomas Byrne left the unit in order to become a doctor and succeeded in doing so leaving the combat role. In the meanwhile, John Hayes seemingly betrayed the men under him causing their deaths during a deep cover operation. Disgraced and on the run from authorities, Hayes is determined to return to the United States and get back to his wife and daughter. He also wants to take revenge against those people that have caused him to be labeled “traitor.”

Due to the past friendship and close contact with Hayes, Thomas Byrne is called back into service as a means of finding and capturing him. John and a squad loyal to him are responsible for a series of attacks aimed at the people that have accused him of being a traitor. The events move rapidly as Thomas Byrne goes after his former friend.

Quirk creates a story that twists and turns in its progress towards a powerful conclusion. This is certainly an all nighter, and succeeds in capturing the reader right at the start. Very well done and certainly a novel that will cause anyone reading it to look for the next Quirk book.

4/16 Paul Lane

COLD BARREL ZERO by Matthew Quirk. Mulholland Books (March 29, 2016).  ISBN 978-0316259217.  384p.


Book on CD


GONE AGAIN by James Grippando

March 3, 2016
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In an afterward, Grippando, the creator of Jack Swyteck, an attorney practicing in Florida, indicates that he is sending Jack back into his literary roots. This is exactly what is done as Swyteck becomes involved with defending a prisoner on death row as he did in the first novel introducing him, The Pardon.

A young girl named Sashi Burgette disappeared on her way to school three previously. While a body was never found, an ex-con named Dylan Kyle was stopped for drunken driving shortly after the disappearance was reported. An article of Sashi’s clothing was found in his vehicle and a police video of Kyle’s drunken explanation of events provided enough circumstantial evidence for a jury to convict him of murder.

A few days prior to Kyle’s execution, Sashi’s mother visits Swyteck, who is doing pro bono work at the Freedom Institute and blurts out that she received a phone call from her daughter,indicating that she is still alive. Jack, in the interest of justice being served, jumps into the case in spite of the police indicating the call is a hoax, the death warrant already signed by the governor of Florida, and the state attorney declaring that the case is closed.

Grippando proceeds to grab the reader with twists and turns of the story that seemingly complicate events beyond any readily visible solution. And, at the same time Jack’s wife, Andie Henning, is about to have a baby. Andie works for the FBI normally doing undercover work. While still able to handle work prior to going on maternity leave, Andie discovers some details related to the crime Jack is working on.  She is not able to pass the information onto Jack due to constraints placed on what she can divulge, but does manage to provide some help to her husband.

The book is by any definition an all nighter as are the previous novels in the Swyteck series and certainly motivates readers to seek out the next in this series.

3/16 Paul Lane

GONE AGAIN by James Grippando. Harper (March 1, 2016).  ISBN 978-0062368706.  400p.