“With the flawless sky above and the boardwalk below, Robert Worth has set up shop on Venice Beach with an eye on Delfina Famosa, his unexpected first client. A whip-smart homeless kid, Delfina reaches out to Robert to keep her father, Teo, out of trouble. The pair claim to be beneficiaries of the seven-figure Famosa trust, and Delfina wants him to have their backs in court. But in a city of illusions, nothing is what it first appears to be.
Robert should be taking his own advice—always keep his professional distance. Yet every sharp turn and revealed secret draws him closer to his clients. And the closer he gets, the greater the danger.
All he wants now is for everyone to get what they deserve. For some, he hopes it’s not too late. For others—they won’t even see him coming.”
This novel is the second in the author’s Beach Lawyer series. Regular readers of my blog will recall that I was quite critical of the first novel in the series, Beach Lawyer which was also the author’s debut. I am really pleased to say that I enjoyed this latest book much more. The majority of the issues I had with the first book do not recur in this one, and you can see how much the authors has developed in his writing.
The second novel still focuses on Robert Worth, who has left his slick law firm and set up practice on a table on the Venice Beach boardwalk, helping the needy of the neighbourhood. Not the most lucrative of business, but after his big success at the end of the previous novel, he is currently solvent and able to take on the seemingly simple case of a query into a family trust for a troubled dad and his daughter currently living in their van. Obviously, things turn out to be more complicated than they first seem, and this is the meat of the story.
There were a few things for me which made this a better story this time around. Firstly, there was none of the minutiae of legal practice discussed in this book, which dragged the first book to a crawl in the early chapters. Duff has managed to fold the legal explanation necessary for the plot much more smoothly and succinctly into the narrative this time around, so it doesn’t interrupt the momentum and flow of the story.
Secondly, the plot itself is a lot more straightforward, easier to follow and far less convoluted than the last time. I wasn’t lost in the twists of turns of who was who and was was what and having to go back and try and catch up on the constant switching as in the last book, which again broke up the momentum and stopped me getting engrossed in the last book.
The third, and most major improvement, was in the warmth of the characters in this book. Last time, none of the characters had my sympathy and I just really did not care what happened. This is a major failing in any novel. This time, both the main characters of Robert and Gina were much more likeable and just, human, in a way they weren’t before and I was far more invested in their success this time around. In addition, his new clients, Delfina and Teo Famaosa were appealing from the start and I was immediately rooting for them in a way that was impossible with the characters from the last instalment, who were mostly unpleasant. I really wanted things to turn out well for all the main players here, and their plight kept me turning the pages until the end.
There is plenty of action and devilment to liven up the plot throughout and keep you on the edge of your seat, much more so than in the first book where it was all shoe-horned in at the end, a vast improvement.
This novel still has its issues. The first chapter could have done with some serious editing. It contained too many cliches and practically the whole list of ‘Things You Should Never Do When Writing’. I feared that I was going to be disappointed again, but once I pushed on through the opening pages, it improved quickly and hugely, so this was obviously an anomaly. The other main problem comes at the end, where I fear the main plot twist comes too late, and then there is a mad rush to get everything explained before he runs out of chapters. It is a pacing problem that still needs looking at. However, these problems did not hugely detract from my enjoyment of the book and I would recommend it to friends who enjoy legal thrillers. Plus, I will definitely read the next in the series, and there cannot be a better endorsement than that.
The Boardwalk Trust is out on 17 April 2018 and you can pre-order a copy here.
Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
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 and joined a prestigious Tennessee law firm, where he became a partner in five years. Duff’s screenwriting credits include the 2010 heist drama Takers, starring Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, T.I., Jay Hernandez, Zoe Saldana, Michael Ealy, and Hayden Christensen. Avery Duff lives at the beach in Los Angeles and spends his time writing fiction. His first novel, Beach Lawyer, was an Amazon Charts Most Read and Most Sold book.