Beach Lawyer by Avery Duff #bookreview

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“After five gruelling years, Robert Worth is just days away from making partner at a powerful Santa Monica law firm. When a client confides in him that senior partner Jack Pierce sexually assaulted her, Robert breaks two of his mentor’s cardinal rules: Never let yourself get emotional about clients. And never make an enemy of Jack Pierce.

Robert crosses Pierce and is fired on the spot, losing not only his job but also his reputation. Advised to go quietly, Robert vows revenge against the ruthless man who betrayed him. But his investigation uncovers a twisted shadow world of sex, infidelity, and deception, where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Only one thing is clear: Pierce will go the limit to keep his secrets.

This straight shooter will need to use every angle if he hopes to win. But could victory come at too high a price?”

From reading the blurb, I was eager to get stuck into this book as I was hoping that I could find a new author to rival to John Grisham. I love a good legal thriller and this book sounded extremely promising. Sadly, it fell very far short of my expectations.

There are multiple issues with this book, beginning with the pacing. This books starts off extremely slowly. I understand that the author is trying to establish the characters and their place in the hierarchy of the law firm as the footing for the story to come. Unfortunately, he chooses to do this by going into tedious detail of the everyday technical running of a law firm, right down to the minutiae of how lawyers record their time for billing purposes. None of this has any bearing on the plot whatsoever and just serves to drag the story to a crawl, right at the point where it should be grabbing our attention. The opening chapters also include a lot of legal jargon which I imagine would be largely incomprehensible to a non-lawyer – even I struggled – and it really didn’t seem necessary to advance the understanding of the story. There also appeared to be some things happening which, as a lawyer, just didn’t ring true to me at all, unless the US legal profession is totally different to the UK one in fundamental ways. This would probably be unnoticeable to people without a legal background but I have never felt like this when reading an American legal thriller before.

I was also excessively annoyed in the opening chapters by some lazy errors; in grammar, in tense and in a very simple calculation on one page which made me wonder if this book had been edited by anyone other than the author at all, and I continued to feel like that throughout the book.

Further problems in the opening chapters came in the guise of over-writing, stilted descriptions and an uncomfortable use of language. To be honest, it made me cringe quite a lot, and again I wondered if this book had been professionally edited. I tried to make allowances for the fact that this is his first novel and, to be fair, it did seem to settle into a better rhythm further on but I guess I set off on the journey with a less than favourable impression from the opening chapters, which was unfortunate.

We then move on to the plot, which is both so twisted and labyrinthine as to be almost incomprehensible by the end and, at the same time, totally lacking in any real action until the very last pages, where a brief flurry is shoe-horned in, in order to fulfil the ‘thriller’ tag. It really was one of the most unevenly paced books I have ever read. There were so many twists in who were the baddies, who were the heroes and what everyone’s motives were for doing what they did that it was almost nonsensical. When it came down to it, I just didn’t really believe that so many unpleasant, selfish, immoral people with devious intent happened to co-exist in one tiny orbit.

The most damning issue of all was the complete lack of empathy I had all the way through with any of the characters. They were all unpleasant, they were all uncharismatic, they were all shallow and self-centred. I could not bring myself to care what became of any of them. That was the biggest problem – by the end of the book I really just did not care what happened, I just wanted it to be over. Basically, it was too much hard work for too little return, not at all what I personally am looking for in a book of this nature.

I really wanted to like this book and I hate giving a negative review but this book was very disappointing and I couldn’t hand on heart recommend it. However, this is just my opinion and it appears from other reviews that many people loved it. May be I went into it with too high an expectation. If you would like to read it and make your own judgement, the book is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

Avery Duff was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he attended Baylor School and graduated summa cum laude. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center. He then joined a prestigious Tennessee law firm, becoming a partner in five years, before moving to Los Angeles. His screenwriting credits include the 2010 heist drama Takers, starring Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, and Hayden Christensen. Duff lives at the beach in Los Angeles and spends his time writing fiction. Beach Lawyer is his first published novel.

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