Posted in Legal Fiction, Women's Fiction

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Publication Info: Expected publication date August 4th 2020, by St. Martin’s Press. I read the Kindle pre-pub edition courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher.

Summary: In the small seaside town of Neapolis, a young man is on trial for the rape of a teenage girl. Scott Blair is Neapolis’ athlete-hero, with a college scholarship and a good shot at a place on the Olympic swim team. His defense team presents multiple character witnesses who attest to Scott’s upstanding community spirit.

The underage teenage girl, known as K, only has her testimony and the report from a rape kit. It is a classic case of he said/she said. The victim desperately needs a witness to support her accusation.

Among the reporters at this trial, is Rachel Krall, a well-known true crime podcaster. After several seasons of covering past trials, Rachel is reporting on the case in Neapolis at the end of each day. Rachel is also receiving mysterious handwritten notes and emails from a woman named Hannah. The notes implore her to look into the death of her sister. Many years ago, Jenny was a teenager when she died in Neapolis, a supposed drowning victim. Her sister, Hannah, insists that Jenny was murdered. Intrigued by the amount of detail in the notes, Rachel is pulled into investigating Jenny’s death while reporting on the contentious rape trial.

Comments: In The Night Swim, Megan Goldin does an amazing job of conveying the emotional devastation of rape and the rule of good old boy culture in a small town. In painful detail, the author describes what a female goes through in a rape trial. In describing the violation of the victim after the rape and not dwelling on the intimate details of the act itself, the author empathically describes how the court treats sex-crime victims.

I thought that the primary voices in the book, both the podcaster and the letter writer, were the perfect means to differentiate the cases. The formats also allowed the reader to develop deep compassion for K and Hannah.

Very highly recommended for fiction readers of courtroom dramas, legal fiction and women’s issues.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Posted in General Fiction, Legal Fiction, Legal Mystery, Multi-Cultural Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Publication Info: Published April 16th 2019 by Sarah Crichton Books. I listened to the audio edition. Other editions available.

Summary: For several families, hope lies in a blue hyperbaric chamber. The owner of the device, Pak Yoo, brought his wife and teenage daughter from South Korea in search of a better life. He promotes the hyperbaric chamber as a treatment for a variety of conditions ranging from autism to impotence.

When a deliberately set fire kills two of the children, suspicion initially falls on a group of protestors. But the police arrest Elizabeth, the mother of one of the victims. As the novel progresses, it is clear that the case isn’t quite as simple as the prosecution portrays.

Comments: Miracle Creek is an astonishingly complex and insightful novel. The author employs omnicient narration to peer deeply into the lives and motivations of everyone involved with the hyperbaric chamber. While the story line is centered around Elizabeth’s trial, the author skillfully weaves in the various events that lead to the fire. The reader’s sympathies and emotions are pulled in various directions as evidence unfolds.

Because the author is also a Korean immigrant, she is able to write with deep understanding about the experience the Yoo family had in coming to America. I found this part of the story particularly enlightening.

Highly recommended for readers of general fiction, multicultural fiction, legal fiction and mysteries.

My rating: 5 STARS

Posted in Asian, Cultural, India, Legal Fiction, Legal Mystery, Mystery

The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Perveen Mistry #2)

Publication Info: Published May 14th 2019 by Soho Crime. Hardcover edition courtesy of my local library. Other editions available.

Summary: The Kholhapur Agency, which has jurisdiction over twenty-five states in Western India, hires Perveen to mediate in a situation that requires a woman. As one of the few female lawyers in India, Perveen once again is called upon to visit women in purdah–seclusion from any men–who are stuck in an argument that affects the future of their state of Satapur.The Satapur Moonstone

The women, both widowed, are the grandmother and mother of a future Maharajah, a boy named Prince Jiva Rao. The argument is over the boy’s education. The grandmother, the ruling dowager Majarani, wants the boy educated at home by the long-standing family tutor, an elderly man. His mother, a more worldly and educated woman, wants the boy sent away to be educated in England.

Both women agree on one thing: they fear for the boy’s safety. Jiva Rao’s father was killed by cholera and his brother in a hunting accident. Both deaths were within a short time of each other. The women disagree on how to keep the boy safe–keep him at home or send him to another country.

Perveen must get the women to agree on a course of action. But more forces are in play than are described to her in her mission objectives. As Perveen gets to know the family and the people nearest to them, she realizes that someone is possibly a murderer–and her own life may be in danger.

Comments: I really looked forward to reading The Satapur Moonstone after devouring the first one in the series. While I enjoyed it, the characters didn’t quite grab me this time. I like the main character, Perveen Mistry,  but other than her attraction to a man whom she cannot have (due to her personal circumstances), there were few further insights into her life. Other than the man she was attracted to (no spoilers here) I found most, but not all, of the other characters to be unlikable and without much depth.

I like the setting of the novels in India and learning about the cultural differences within the country. I am looking forward to reading the next installment in the series, but perhaps with a bit less eagerness.

Recommended for mystery readers and those who like multi-cultural fiction. I highly recommend that readers start with book number one in the series, The Widows of Malabar Hill.

Posted in Best Sellers, General Fiction, Legal Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Publication Info: edition published August 8, 2017 by Blackstone Audio. Other editions available, various publishers.

Summary: Sisters Charlotte and Samantha would regret the afternoon they stayed home from track practice at school for the rest of their lives. Their home had recently burned down, torched by someone wanting to inflict pain and revenge upon their father, Rusty.  The attorney to every misfortunate and criminal in the area, Rusty made a lot of enemies from those who were angry about his successes in the courtroom. Rusty’s wife, Harriet, the mother of his two much beloved daughters, let the girls stay home to help her sort through the cardboard boxes of Thrift Store and donated items in the ramshackle farmhouse they’d just moved into.The Good Daughter

Suddenly, two men wearing ski masks barged in looking for Rusty. They didn’t expect to find the girls at home—they were scheduled to be at track practice. This forced them into a change of plans. Angry and out of control, one of them fatally shoots Harriet. The girls run for their lives, but Sam is caught, shot and buried alive. Her sister, Charlie, escapes but not without consequences of her own.

Over 20 years later, Rusty is defending a young girl accused of being a school shooter. Charlie was accidentally a witness to the incident. Now also a lawyer, she aids her ailing father in finding out the truth as to what really happened in the school. What she finds makes her painfully face her own long buried trauma.

Comments: Told from multiple points of view and varying timelines, this is a book that is both distressing to read and hard to put down. Not everything is revealed in the order of events, but rather unfolds, like surfacing suppressed memories. This technique really pulled me into the story. The Good Daughter has quirky, unique, flawed characters that left me thinking about them long after I’d finished the book.

I read one or two of Karin Slaughter’s series books years ago and have no idea why I never read more. This is the first stand-alone novel I’ve read by this author. I’ve already put more of her books in my reading queue.

Very highly recommended for readers of General Fiction, Thrillers, Mysteries, and Legal Fiction.