I decided to read this after reading the author's earlier outing Mercy
, in which the hero, Alex Sedaka, was introduced. Like its predecessor, this is an intriguing and complex legal thriller which is similarly marred to some extent by over-complexity. In this case, the problem concerned the DNA evidence, where the author appeared to be trying to give it one twist too many, and I found it quite hard to follow.
The basic plot-line of the book - the trial of a black TV talk-show host accused of rape - is an interesting one. And the events that unfold, both in and out of the courtroom, are quite gripping. Once again, Kessler raises questions that have cropped up in several of his previous works, such as the morality of private vengeance and the possibility of personal redemption. None of the characters are morally flawless. But that is not to say that they are unsympathetic. Quite the contrary. It is because they are flawed, yet in most cases, well-intentioned, that they are believable and human. The lawyer is no saint. But he has a sense of duty - as well as a sense of loyalty. The accused has demons in his closet - yet (and I hope I am not giving too much away) - he is not lacking in ideals. Other characters, both good and bad, are motivated by events in their past. The author is by no means morally neutral, but he recognizes that even villainy has its causes. This avoidance of comic book heroism and villainy is probably the book's greatest strength.
I think that if the author had retained the moral complexities but ditched - or at least played down - the scientific complexities, this would have qualified as a superlative LITERARY novel. As it is, I would rate it as a good thriller, not as fast-paced as its predecessor, but psychologically a lot deeper.