Monday, November 26, 2012


What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Guilt (Delacorte, 1996).

John Lescroart's Guilt opens with two longtime friends, attorneys Wes Farrell and Mark Dooher, ogling a cute girl, as longtime friends might be expected to in any bar as the night grows long. Dooher intends to have her. He'll be successful, and, a few years later, they'll be wed and she'll be expecting his child, but only after Dooher has killed two people, one of whom is his current wife. This isn't spoiling much; the man is clearly shown off as guilty throughout the book, which first asks how the police will catch him, and then how his old pal Farrell will get him acquitted.

It's also not much of a spoiler to say that he will. Farrell had been introduced as a supporting player in Lescroart's previous novel A Certain Justice as a deeply depressed attorney who had lost faith in the law as a result of a really disheartening miscarriage of justice. This is, in part, that story: how Farrell got his old friend off a murder charge, knowing deep down that he had killed at least two people, but never understanding how. That's most of the book; the events of A Certain Justice actually happen, chronologically, about three-quarters of the way through this text. The final act asks whether the restored Farrell, allied with one of the author's regular players, Lieutenant Abe Glitsky, can do anything about it.

I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed this as much as I did, as so much of it is a foregone conclusion. Dooher is a fantastic opponent, one who hides his villainy extremely well, and never, ever feels that he's doing the wrong thing. It's a complex and complicated world, and he proves to be an excellent master villain to Abe Glitsky. I enjoy Lescroart for many reasons, but one of the best is the way that he populates such a busy world, full of characters, any of whom can take the spotlight for novels or portions of novels. As this book progresses, both Glitsky and Dooher become widowers. Lescroart doesn't make the resulting symmetry too obvious, but it links them, and the interaction this sparks is fabulous. Recommended, especially in tandem with the earlier book.

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