Tuesday, March 29, 2011

'Bodily Harm' Book Review

A government official has a horrifying and murderous encounter with a mysterious assassin in China--and gets an assignment he dares not defy.

David Sloane, dubbed by the media as 'The Lawyer Who Never Loses', is in a hurry.  He's overdue in court--where he is about to win again--but doesn't feel at ease about the likely outcome.  A grubby young man, smelling of alcohol, accosts Sloane on the streets of Seattle, forcing a slim file on him, which he contends explains why the Doctor, whose career is about to end with the verdict, isn't responsible for the death of the child of Sloane's clients.

"The doctor did not kill that boy."
Sloane stopped.  Pedestrians maneuvered to avoid him.  Walking back to the curb, Sloane saw that the man held a photocopy of an article from The Seattle Times reporting on the medical malpractice case.
"How would you know that?"  Sloane asked.
"Because I did."

With that, Robert Dugoni has set the hook deeply with his novel Bodily Harm.

The action moves with breakneck speed as the attorney that has everything go his way professionally, soon finds his personal life in wreckage as this high-octane story of desperation in lofty corporate offices becomes interwoven with money, politics, murder and government agencies.  As with previous novels by Dugoni, this work really reaches beyond the conventional thriller as he stretches his literary lead over the work of Turow and Grisham.

It's not often I feel engaged by the literary merits of a thriller.  Too often they are paint-by-the-numbers formula pieces.  Bodily Harm though, like Wrongful Death, Damage Control and The Jury Master preceding it ( and previously mentioned on the pages of this blog), have that intangible quality of plausibility to them.  While you are irresistibly turning each page to see what's next, you can well imagine how these things could actually happen.

The characters are finely drawn.  The relationships are deeply felt by this reader, and the tragedies and triumphs resonate with real emotion.  In the end as the dust is settling and David Sloane emerges victorious yet anything but unscathed, he is left with one question:  "When does it stop hurting?"

You'll have to read the book to get the answer, but you better hurry--his next, 'Murder One' is set for release in early June, and I, for one, can't wait.

Forget being the 'heir apparent' to Scott Turow or John Grisham.  Robert Dugoni has re-defined the legal thriller and is in a class by himself.  Long live the new King!

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