Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review of the Day: A Plague of Secrets



A Plague of Secrets is John Lescroart’s latest Dismas Hardy book in a series that keeps getting better and better.

As with most of the books, San Francisco lawyer Dismas Hardy is hired to represent a client accused of murder and, in the course of proving his SODDIt defense (Some Other Dude Did It), must find the real killer before the jury returns its verdict. In this case, the politically connected and wealthy Maya Townshend is on trial for two murders following the deaths of her pot-dealing coffee shop manager and another of her old college buddies.

There is a lot of meat on the bones, with multiple leads, suspects, motives, and possible outcomes, all culminating in an edge-of-the-seat finale. It also has more than great action and a complicated mystery – Lescroart weaves in some bigger ideas about marijuana use and trade, civil forfeiture law, and the scope of personal responsibility.

Lescroart presents portrait of San Francisco that, although run by an imagined cast of politicians, police, judges, lawyers, and civic leaders, is absolutely believable. The same characters people 19 books so far, with Chief of Homicide Abe Glitsky, Hardy's law partners Wes Farrell or Gina Roake, or private investigator Wyatt Hunt stepping into the spotlight in six of them.

Aficionados will appreciate the further development of Lescroart's fictional network. Newcomers can jump right in and enjoy the story even if they haven't read the other books in the series. The mystery stands alone, and Lescroart weaves in just enough background to bring new readers up to speed without spoiling the earlier stories or bogging down the narrative for seasoned fans.


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