Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Motive

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 The Motive (Dutton, 2004).

While I have consistently enjoyed John Lescroart's novels about lawyer Dismas Hardy and cop Abe Glitzky and all their extended friends and families, they're rarely light reading. Lescroart piles so much detail atop complicated and twisting plots that I often need a break after one before starting the next. Sometimes, things get so dense, I take a breather about three-quarters of the way in. I put down The First Law, the one two before this, midway through a meal at a Hawaiian-themed restaurant a couple of months ago and just watched The Price is Right on TV instead. They can get heavy, in other words.

But man alive, The Motive is a stunner, and, if I may use a cliche, a real "page-turner." I really didn't want to put this down at all, since so blasted much was going on that had me completely baffled and enthralled. I loved this one without reservation.

This one begins with the discovery of two bodies in the fiery wreckage of a multi-million dollar San Francisco home, and winds its way through everything from parking-and-towing contracts for the city, an old girlfriend of Dismas', a new baby boy with a frightening birth defect for Abe, favors for the mayor, and deep cover CIA agents. There's a high profile murder case and a lousy cop who's sexually harassed a prime suspect, and one of the most stunning courtroom twists in a series that's full of them.

Speaking as a father of a boy who was born with a hole in his heart, by the way, that subplot for Abe had me absolutely choking for breath a couple of times. Mine turned out okay - well, mostly - but these aren't books where readers can take anything for granted. Previous stories have shown that anything can happen to our heroes, and that popular supporting characters die. I might have been turning the pages so desperately because if Baby Zachary wasn't going to make it, I needed to know right that minute. Whenever the real world did intrude and I did have to put down this novel, I was mighty perturbed. Very highly recommended.

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