Monday, February 3, 2014

When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

This was a tough one to review. There were so many expectations. The reviews sounded so promising, I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into a good thriller.

Although Hostile Witness is a legal thriller, calling it a legal drama might be a tad more accurate. Unlike many of the thrillers I've read, the suspense, twist and smattering of danger all make their appearances at the end of the story. So it would be difficult for me to put a thriller label on this anywhere but at the end. In fact, I was getting close to the end before I was interested in the story at all.

This all seems very negative for a book with so many good reviews. And it's not that the book is bad. It's really not. It just wasn't what I expected, so I was disappointed. The blame lies with me.

The first half to two thirds of Hostile Witness builds upon the main characters, their back stories and the oh so slow unfolding of the case against sixteen year old Hannah. Unfortunately, I disliked this first half immensely and nearly abandoned it. Halfway is my usual jumping ship point if I haven't been hooked, but for some reason, this time I persevered. 

Overall, the writing was clean, but I found the characters were stereotypical and not at all likeable. I found it very difficult to care what was happening in the story. Personal taste? Maybe. Luckily, the last third of the story picked up considerably with its courtroom drama and that tiny bit of danger thrown in. I believe that last third of the book  fits the legal drama (thriller?) genre well. Perhaps too well. 

To be fair, Hostile Witness is a solidly turned out, professional product - but I guess I was hoping for something unique.
On Amazon

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