Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Debut Legal Thriller, The Inevitable Witness, by Ed Rucker Found to be Contrived...

Late Sunday Night
Officer Terrance Michael Horgan knew he was dying. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling. He could sense life slowly ebbing away, could feel the wetness of the blood spreading on his Hawaiian shirt.
He knew he was alone now. Why, he thought, when I heard the door open, didn't I notice that the footsteps sounded wrong? I could have slipped out my back-up gun. What was I thinking? I've always been so damn careful, so damn smart. But not this time. He remembered his surprise when he saw the gun pointed at him. the taste of metal in his mouth as he fought to tighten his loosening bowels.
Horgan's mind kept shouting that this should not be happening to him. He was too young, not ready. He was "The Man," tougher, smarter than everyone else. If he hadn't come here tonight, he would have been in a bar, laughing with his buddies, watching the women come in. He would have pulled a woman close to him, drinking tequila shooters with a hand on the curve of her shoulder, touching her neck and feeling the strands of her hair between his fingers, looking over the room, daring anyone to challenge him.
Not now, for Christ's sake, he pleaded. Not like this. Not on the floor of a...Chinese restaurant. Officer Horgan tried to raise his arms, but there was no feeling from his chest to his legs. To die alone, he thought. And for what? Why? A man should know why. He didn't want to shut his eyes. He didn't want the light to go out. But it did...

Two Hours Earlier
To any passerby, Sydney Seabrooke might appear to be a shop owner fumbling with his keys. But there were no keys in his hands. From his inside coat pocket he retrieved a small case of finely tooled leather, and selected two short "L" shaped metal rods. Replacing the case, he inserted the thin rods of the shiny Grade 1 commercial dead bolt lock on the grease-stained door. Within a minute, he heard the reassuring click of the last tumbler falling into place and the bolt disengaging. He was inside...
The clanking of the security gate on the front door shattered the silence. The sound of the security gate sliding open was like the swish and clump of a guillotine. Seabrooke froze. This was not supposed to happen. He had been instructed to break in at this exact time and assured that no one would disturb him. He grabbed for the floor lam and snapped it off. In a panic, he fumbled in the dark for his tools, scrambling to shove them back into his leather cases. A key scraped in the front door lock, and then another, as if someone were searching for the right key. Christ, his mind screamed, he had to get out of here. Seabrooke snatched up his coat and hat, jamming them under one arm and heaved up his cases. He stepped quietly to the office doorway and peered out. In the main dining room, the front door swung open and illumination from the street suddenly swept across the floor like the beam of a search light. Too late for the back door, he would be seen. Seabrooke moved to his right and eased through the swinging door and crept into the kitchen...
The thud of the front door shutting broke the silence. Then footsteps. Someone else was here. An angry shout hurtled from the office. Muffled voices spoke in clipped, angry tones. Suddenly gunshots exploded. The booming sounds felt like blows inside Seabrooke's head. He began to whimper. Then he heard the front door open and close...
~~~

The Inevitable Witness

By Ed Rucker

Readers know in the first few pages that a cop has been killed at the same time a robbery was happening. They can also surmise that having the robber there at that exact time was on purpose.

The suspense of the book is seen through the eyes of the defense attorney, Bobby Earl. He was appointed to the case by the judge who thought he would be sitting the bench...he wanted Earl simply to ensure that the defense would be well represented, since he had political ambitions which included making the DA look bad... Makes sense in today's world even if not exactly ethical...but there will be a number of examples of less than ethical actions by members of the court and surrounding agencies...

Bobby Earl is known for his ability to win defense cases. But this was not just the defense of a guilty man--of burglary, but rather a man who had murdered during that burglary...

There are many twists and turns to keep readers interested, except...perhaps I got too interested. Because by the time the book reached the time when the defense case was to be presented, I was greatly disappointed. There had been several different angles uncovered, which led to the probable killer. It was stated that two crime groups in particular would be called... I don't want to give specific examples but will do so if requested...

But then, after getting word that those individuals were angry and, indeed, their hit man began to threaten Earl, that part of the potential case seemed to disappear...without any explanation...

Another point that bothered me about "Bobby" - yes, I had trouble with a lawyer being called Bobby, but that's just my personal opinion... Anyway, it was made quite clear that Bobby's one and only interest in working a case was for his own personal satisfaction and his desire...his need...to win. Some may say that's a good thing, but I didn't think so. Earl paid little attention to his client and actually entered into the trial without prep and agreement with his client... I guess because he'd already decided not to use any of the evidence that had been discovered? If that were true, then I would have expected an explanation, at least for the benefit of the reader.

In fact, given the decision made by Earl, (that is, the author) somewhere along the way, that he wasn't going to bring in the criminal groups, nor did he bring in the fact that Seabrook had been paid in kind to rob the safe at the Chinese restaurant - by the bail bondsman, in fact... the defense included only one witness... Believe me, there was a lot of circumstantial evidence discussed in the book that could have helped Seabrooke, the defendant. Why the author chose not to include any of that, was beyond my understanding... It felt contrived, unrealistic, to have gathered so much information, yet not even attempt to get it into discussion???

Then there was the end of the book which left lots of issues that was left hanging...For instance, during the discovery, it was determined that a man had been robbed of his property and they had interviewed he and mainly his daughter... Not only was that not brought in, but it was just...dropped...with no suggestion whatsoever, that Earl intended to present that and these other issues to appropriate people...

Is this the reality that claims that this lawyer knows how the system really works...and that his book reflected it? Basically, the cop that was killed was dirty...nothing that he'd been involved with was covered by the case, by the defense lawyer, nor the author in closing the case, and the book, by calling an ADA to whom he was attracted and scheduling a date...

Where was the justice for all the crimes that had been uncovered by the defense team? Are we to assume that this is "how the system really works?" That, perhaps in order not to dirty the reputation of a dirty cop, that all other criminal activities were allowed to remain hidden and not ever acted upon? This reader was not only upset, but disgusted... Was this to be a show-all reality novel? It certainly wasn't described as such...

While well-written and certainly a thriller in tone and story, it certainly didn't provide a book which I would recommend to others who enjoy legal novels that are both thrilling...and representative of a legal system that can indeed work for the good of the clients and the country... I wanted to call rewrite on the entire defense court trial...what a shame... Please note that I received an uncorrected ARC for this review...I seriously doubt, however, that what I found was later changed... I cannot recommend the book... Do check out other reviews, of course!


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