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Friday, August 9, 2013

Patron Book Review: The Ophelia Cut

Posted by EPL Patron and Guest Blogger, Irv S.

John Lescroart is an entertaining and literate writer who is a master of the "I've finished the novel but I'm still not sure whodunit" genre. The Ophelia Cut is an excellent example and a worthwhile read without the gore and blood often found in such novels.  The author kills off a detestable character who several have the motive to kill and submits one of the suspects to a trial for the crime.

Lescroart establishes a number of intertwined motives and puts on trial the least offensive suspect.  The trial is a major portion of the book and handled well.  Any trial lawyer will find weak spots in the court proceedings but less than in most similar writings.  It isn't on a par with To Kill A Mockingbird,  but very few novels are, even some written by experienced lawyers.  Lescroart fails to handle effectively the numerous conflicts of interest, e.g., the D.A. is defense counsel's former partner; defense counsel is the business partner of the defendant (not always a conflict but meriting some explanation, at least for his lawyer readers); defense counsel recently represented one of the other suspects in an unrelated proceeding. The conflicts add to the story but warrant some explanation.

Lescroart   portrays the police officers as able and dedicated public servants. The lawyers are competent and committed, sometimes to justice, often to winning at all costs.  The defendant is a complex and interesting character, a loving father, a good friend, and a recovering alcoholic who struggles mightily with his addiction, not always successfully. One of the suspects is a midlevel politician, ambitious to be elected to higher office; another is a second generation Korean who has converted the apartment buildings acquired by his father to "massage parlors';  the third is a former policeman and mobster,who is in the federal witness protection  program.

The Ophelia Cut is an excellent book for a thoughtful reader or a discussion group, especially because of the conflicts of interest and the ambiguities.

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