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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Insanely Good

Plea of Insanity
Jilliane Hoffman
Vanguard, 2009

Young and ambitious prosecutor Julia Valenciano is facing a case that could launch her career. The defendant is David Marquette, a successful Miami surgeon and devoted family man. The victims were Marquette's wife and three small children. His experienced defense team claims paranoid delusions caused by schizophrenia drove him to slaughter his entire family. But the state suspects Marquette's insanity defense is being fabricated to disguise murders that were cold blooded and calculated. The problem is Julia isn’t so sure she believes that Marquette is faking his mental illness. In fact, as Julia delves deeper into the case, she can’t help but recall a similar situation that happened in her own family. Haunted by her memories, Julia risks estranging her uncle and aunt, the only family she knows, to find her brother in order to finally find some answers of her own.

My book group assignment was to read a legal thriller – not my favorite thing. So I searched around for an unfamiliar author with stand-alone titles for something that appealed to me. I did not have much luck because most legal thrillers come in series, except for this title and a few others. I think I chose this title because of the vulnerability of the main character and her internal struggle to climb the career ladder despite her misgivings about the case she’s assigned. It’s difficult to describe the plot without giving away too many details, but Julia has several problems. One is that she is sleeping with the lead on the case and can’t help but wonder if she got the second chair only because of their casual relationship. The second problem is the similarities between this crime and something that happened to Julia when she was a child. As she tries to balance things, she becomes more confused about the right thing to do, which makes for very compelling reading.

As I mentioned, I’m not a big thriller fan, and I reluctantly picked this book up. The violence at the start of the story almost made me put it back down, but I stuck to it and I’m glad I did. Not only did the fast pace and appealing characters create a suspenseful and rewarding experience, but the ending was very just and satisfying. I’m glad I read it and highly recommend it to others, even those who don’t normally read legal thrillers.


Other books by this author:
Retribution (2004)
Last Witness (2005)
Pretty Little Things (2010)

Other books you may enjoy:

The Hidden Man by David Ellis (2009)
Hired by an anonymous client to defend a man charged with the vigilante murder of an alleged kidnapper, attorney Jason Kolarich is astonished to learn that the suspect is his estranged childhood best friend.

Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta (2010)
A thrilling ride through D.C.'s criminal justice, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis makes a series of choices that jeopardizes her career, her relationships, and her very life.

Smash Cut by Sandra Brown(2009)
Hired by a woman who believes that the accidental shooting of a friend was actually orchestrated by the victim's depraved nephew, defense lawyer Derek Mitchell comes to realize that the nephew is a psychotic movie buff who enjoys acting out violent film plots

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