First Class - Topical, Controversial And Yet Justice Prevails (Or Does It...?),
This review is from: Betrayal (Paperback)
I adore reading Lescroart's novels. He is not nearly accessible enough in the UK and that is a crime.
Betrayal begins with Hardy, as always. We learn where he is in life and mentality. We learn how he comes to be involved in helping this particular convict...
The reader is then transported back in time. The war with Iraq is over. Sadaam has been defeated. But trouble is only just beginning... The US is now responsible for rebuilding Iraq. And the picture Lescroart paints of how this responsibility is undertaken is frightening. I'd like to believe that it's all merely artistic licence but, well, am I really that naive...?
Anyway, corruption is rife as is profiteering. The lack of control is terrifying. I can't believe I'd ever wish to see more red tape but... And our future convict becomes a pawn caught up in the middle of it all. We are also introduced to our victim, a kind of enforcer for the man who is playing a large role in the restructure of Iraq, as well as the political influences that will have an impact on the result of what seems like a mere domestic dispute. Then, a woman is thrown into the mix.
The only quibble I have with Lescroarts plots are that they can become a little convuluted. The reader must remain in thinking-mode in order to have a hope of tying it all together. But, before reading this novel I had no idea what it took to rebuild a battered and unhappy nation. I'm not saying I now know how it SHOULD be done, but I do feel I've been educated in how it SHOULDN'T be done.
The other quibble is addressed within the story - it becomes a little conspiracy-heavy. Governments are involved, the FBI are not sharing their toys or playing nicely, and it all becomes about more than the actual crime that took place.
But, Lescroart continues to do what he does best: he raises fascinating moral dilemmas. How far should we support our troops? Is the Western way the best way? What happens when the good guys become too powerful? How much violence in a war is justified? Combined with this is the ever accurate legal dilemmas. How much does a person's psyche affect their actions? Should the victim's wrong-doings be aired in court? Is it a crime if the victim is actually of worse character than the defendant? Are some convictions allowed simply to serve the so-called "greater good"? Honestly - this novel serves as a far better debate on war and morality than any discursive essay assigned in either Political Studies or whatever Social & Moral Education is called nowadays in school. It made me think and I will remember it.
Lescroart doesn't preach. He presents the world, and American law, as it really is. Amidst all this is Dismas Hardy, a real protagonist with believable values and an honest portrayal of developing relationships and friendships. They may be very much in the background, but the additional characers are allowed to develop in Lescroart's works.
And, as ever, San Fransico is very much present. The books are as much travel guides at times as legal conundrums. Plus, I always like to hear which Greek/Chinese concoction is currently Lou's special-of-the-day,
An exploration of current affairs, legal and moral dilemmas, never shying from the controversial, Betrayal still manages to give the air of catching up with old friends.