Silent Counsel by Ken Isaacson
Kindle, or Windermere Press (hardback).
I used the opportunity of my new Kindle to read this novel, which has been on my list for a while. I love legal thrillers and this one is well up there, combining a clearly expert knowledge with a crackingly fast plot on the theme of attorney-client privilege.
At the outset, a hit-and-run driver in New Jersey, USA, kills a young boy while doing excessive speeds on a residential street in his latest sports car. Vince Saldano, the driver, is a well-to-do businessman, and (portrayed as) relatively decent, hence he feels guilty for not stopping. He decides to visit a lawyer, Scott Heller, to find out whether there is any chance that he could deal with the prosecutor for a reduced sentence. He takes the unusual step of asking Scott to promise not to reveal his name while Scott is negotiating with the DA’s office. Scott is unsuccessful in negotiating a plea bargain, and to the frustration of the police, says he cannot reveal his client’s identity. Soon, Scott himself is facing court action to question the legality of his stance.
Part of the plot of this exciting novel concerns Scott’s moral dilemma, and his increasing sense of nightmare as the fallout of Vince’s strategy spirals out of control. Another part of the book focuses on the personal costs of the crime, both to the parents (particularly the mother) of the dead boy, and to Scott’s own wife and young daughter, who are unsympathetic to his position. Soon, he and his family begin to understand the emotional effects of Vince’s action and the consequences of Scott’s decision to protect the man’s identity.
There are so many twists to this novel that it is hard to review it without giving away any of its clever secrets. The final chapters, in particular, provide punch after punch and had me clicking away madly (as I did not have any actual pages to turn!). Occasionally the author provides a few educational paragraphs about some arcane aspect of law or IP addresses, but that’s fine by me. I really liked his juxtaposition of the legal and procedural after-effects of a crime, together with its terrible human cost. I don’t suppose this book will sell as well as John Grisham, but it is easily as good, if not better, and I can highly recommend it.