Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review: CLAIM OF INNOCENCE by Laura Caldwell

Pub. Date: August 2011
Publisher: Mira
Format: Mass Market Paperback , 448pp
ISBN-13: 9780778329329
ISBN: 0778329321

Description (from the publisher):
Forbidden relationships are the most tempting. And the most dangerous.

It was a crime of passion–or so the police say. Valerie Solara has been charged with poisoning her best friend. The prosecution claims she's always been secretly attracted to Amanda's husband…and with Amanda gone, she planned to make her move.
Attorney Izzy McNeil left the legal world a year ago, but a friend's request pulls her into the murder trial. Izzy knows how passion can turn your life upside down. She thought she had it once with her ex–fiance, Sam. Now she wonders if that's all she has in common with her criminally gorgeous, younger boyfriend, Theo.

It's Izzy's job to present the facts that will exonerate her client–whether or not she's innocent. But when she suspects Valerie is hiding something, she begins investigating–and uncovers a web of secret passions and dark motives, where seemingly innocent relationships can prove poisonous…

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars - an entertaining and fast-paced legal and romantic thriller

My Thoughts:  I like a good thriller now and then. Sometimes they're just what I need to cleanse my reading palate as I transition from one historical period to another or after an especially gut-wrenching memoir. Laura Caldwell's CLAIM OF INNOCENCE caught me at just the right time. I found it to be a pleasantly engaging light read.

CLAIM OF INNOCENCE is actually the fourth book in the Izzy McNeil series, though it was the first one that I read. I didn't find myself at much of a disadvantage picking up the series at this point. It's not that different than filling in a new friend's backstory. On the other hand, I do prefer reading a series in order just so certain subplots aren't spoiled.

In this installment, Izzy deals with a number of personal issues as well as the main story line - defending a woman accused of killing her best friend. She's torn between reuniting with her ex-fiance (clearly one of those aforementioned subpots) and developing a deeper commitment with her new, much younger lover; her long-dead father isn't so dead after all; her mother seems ambivilent about her own marriage, and her stepfather, the only real father she has ever known, is leaning on Izzy for counsel and support.

While it might be a bit of a stretch for an attorney to jump right into criminal defense without prior experience, this is fiction, and let's face it, escapist fiction at that. Izzy is dedicated and observent, and she's able to form a bond with the defendant that her co-counsel cannot. Despite this bond, and though Izzy believes the woman is innocent, she knows there's more to this case than meets the eye and she's determined to get to the truth.

I liked Izzy. She's smart and has a strong individualistic streak. (Besides dating a much younger guy, she drives around Chicago on a scooter!) I really liked her young boyfriend, Theo. Frankly, I wouldn't be giving the ex-fiance a second thought if Theo was in my life. ;-) I wasn't crazy about the ex-fiance, the not-dead father, or the killer (guess I wasn't supposed to like the killer anyway!).  I don't know that I'd go back and read previous books in the series because now I know too much, but I would read future installments and I'd also like to check out a few of Caldwell's stand-alone novels, especially THE GOOD LIAR.

I enjoyed this book. I'd recommend CLAIM OF INNOCENCE if you're looking for a good, basic legal thriller that will entertain you but not strain your brain.

About the author (from the publisher):
Laura Caldwell, a former trial lawyer, is currently a professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Her first book, Burning the Map, was selected by as one of the best of 2002. The releases of A Clean Slate, The Year of Living Famously and The Night I Got Lucky prompted Booklist to declare, "Caldwell is one of the most talented and inventive—writers around." Her mysteries, Look Closely and The Rome Affair, received critical acclaim, and her international thriller, The Good Liar, was called "a massive achievement." She has been published in ten languages and more than twenty countries.

The Izzy McNeil series:




I read this book as part of the R.I.P. VI Challenge.

  • Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. No monetary consideration was exchanged for my honest opinion.


bermudaonion said...

Sounds like a good book when you need an escape.

Kailana said...

Never heard of this author before... Good review!

Patricia said...

She's new to me --- count me in.
patricia dot mariani dot esq at gmail dot com